definition but not the word

I’ve been trying to find the word for a person who thinks they’re always sick when they’re perfectly healthy (often used as a way to get attention). However there aren’t many resources to find a word based on the definition. If I hear or read a word, I can look it up in the dictionary and if I know a word but want a similar one, I can turn to the thesaurus. But if I know there’s a word with a specialized definition, that’s unlikely to have synonyms, I don’t know how to find it. A Google search didn’t show any immediate results so I’ve been brainstorming of ways to find a word by its definition, but nothing seems to come to mind. Categorizing words might be a good way to allow them to be browsed, but that could also be time consuming.

I finally found the word (hypochondriac) by reading it somewhere and recognizing it as the word I was looking for, but there must be an easier way.


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  1. I had the exact same problem two days ago with finding the word for someone who is afraid of ghosts. I was pretty certain that it would have the ‘phobia’ suffix but the first part of the word could have been anything. I finally broke it down by doing google searches for the following keyword combinations – phobia of ghosts, irrational fear of ghosts/apparitions. I finally reduced it to the words ‘spectrophobia’ and ‘phasmophobia’. By the way, if you’re suffering from these afflictions, this site can cure you. Excellent…

    Comment by jason on November 19, 2003 @ 8:19 am
  2. So Dan, are you a hypochondriac or do you just know one? Shoot, I think everyone knows at least one!

    Comment by Renee on November 19, 2003 @ 9:45 am
  3. Neither, I just couldn’t remember the word.

    Comment by dan on November 19, 2003 @ 10:08 am
  4. if neone knows plz email me cause im goin through a rough time and i belive this word will describe me good.. but i only have the definition but no word if neone would b so kind as 2 help me. the def is: a person whos entire life is a sad story.. email me plz i would greatly appriciate it.

    Comment by Thomas on January 2, 2004 @ 2:15 pm
  5. Dan, Have you found the answer to your problem yet? Everyone who answered you was of no help. I’m constantly searching for a word that fits the definition/context of something I’m writing. I once read of a resource software that was like Oxford or something like that but hadn’t seen it. If not, keep trying I guess.

    Comment by Scott on January 23, 2004 @ 10:25 am
  6. Scott: I found a book called Random House Webster’s Word Menu which categorizes words so if you know the definition, you could probably find the word. I haven’t bought it yet so I don’t know for sure, but it looks like there’s hope.

    Comment by dan on January 23, 2004 @ 11:13 am
  7. OneLook is a meta-dictionary site which offers a “reverse-lookup” facility

    It’s new and certainly isn’t perfect but it’s a good starting point.

    Comment by Ferdinangus on March 2, 2004 @ 11:49 am
  8. Thanks, that’s the best resource I’ve seen yet. I wasn’t able to find hypochondriac with it, but I was able to find a few other words.

    Comment by dan on March 2, 2004 @ 2:14 pm
  9. Guys, I have a similar problem, I need to find a word for someone who is always freezing or who is always cold. unfortunately I couldn’t find it at OneLook. any possible ideas?

    Comment by Armina on March 11, 2004 @ 4:16 pm
  10. I looked around on the reverse dictionary and on Google but didn’t find anything.

    Comment by dan on March 11, 2004 @ 6:34 pm
  11. Hi, I’m looking for the word which means ” someone who works for their family”. Thanks, mellem

    Comment by mellem on April 12, 2004 @ 7:42 pm
  12. Are you looking for ‘nepotism’? It means giving undue preference to members of your family.

    Comment by Levi on April 13, 2004 @ 9:45 am
  13. lol, thanx for the reverse Dan, i was looking for a complex word, and i foundit!

    Comment by Erik on April 13, 2004 @ 3:19 pm
  14. I need the word for:
    to join as a partner

    Comment by Michelle on April 19, 2004 @ 7:04 pm
  15. I need the word for:


    Comment by Michelle on April 19, 2004 @ 7:05 pm
  16. Michelle: Here’s the onelook dictionary results for join as partner, and if you’re just looking for a synonym you should try looking up bright in the thesaurus.

    Comment by dan on April 19, 2004 @ 10:45 pm
  17. Hi, I’m looking for two words. I know that a person who can’t see is blind and that a person who can’t hear is def. What are the words for 1)people who have lost the ability to distinguish smells; i.e. can’t smell and 2) a person who has lost te ability to distingiush tastes; i.e. can’t taste

    Comment by Joseph on September 27, 2004 @ 8:31 am
  18. The loss of your sense of smell is anosmia and hyposmia.

    The loss of your sense of taste is ageusia.

    Comment by dan on September 27, 2004 @ 1:52 pm
  19. I’m looking for a word that means some who is a vegetarian but eats dairy products, eggs, and seafood

    Comment by molly on November 24, 2004 @ 11:42 am
  20. I’m not sure exactly what word you’re looking for, but the wikipedia entry for vegetarianism probably has what you’re looking for.

    Comment by dan on November 30, 2004 @ 4:08 pm
  21. I am looking for a word that means a settlement or a settlement around a village or a town.

    Comment by Lynn Valenz on March 1, 2005 @ 7:51 am
  22. I’d suggest looking at synonyms of suburb, and a search on the reverse dictionary for settlement around a village.

    I came up with a few: environs, hamlet, hinterland, outpost, outskirts.

    Comment by dan on March 1, 2005 @ 9:39 pm
  23. looks like ur inundated with ppl wanting to know meanings of words. and feelling a bit guilty for asking but i have been trying for a fair while to find the word for the following meaning: 1- some one who uses large words inapropriatly / uses to many of them when they speak or 2- just the inapropriate use of long/complicated words.
    cheers keep up the good work!

    Comment by Pete on July 31, 2005 @ 8:37 pm
  24. The best word I found was word monger.

    word monger – user of pretentious words: somebody who uses words pretentiously or merely for effect. a writer who uses language carelessly or pretentiously with little regard for meaning

    Comment by dan on August 1, 2005 @ 9:58 am
  25. Anyone know of a word for persons displaced from home by natural disaster? The media keeps calling the “Katrina” New Orleans victims “refugees”.

    Comment by Laura on September 2, 2005 @ 7:43 am
  26. People that are displaced should not be referred to as “refugees” but as evacuees

    Comment by bflored on September 9, 2005 @ 10:32 am

    I am looking for a word that defines: CHRONIC LOSS OF APPETITE
    It begins with an A but I can’t think of it to save my life!

    Thanks for your help!

    Comment by Angela on October 13, 2005 @ 11:25 am
  28. I am attempting to find the word for a person who pretends to be an intellectual, but who really knows nothing.

    Comment by Donsie on March 22, 2006 @ 8:11 pm
  29. I am writing a paper about opinions. What is the word for someone who believes his religion or way of life is the only opinion…the bet? I am befuddled :-)

    Comment by Jeri on April 12, 2006 @ 12:18 am
  30. Donsie: quack or sciolist.

    Jeri: I didn’t come up with anything.

    Comment by dan on April 12, 2006 @ 9:08 am
  31. I am looking for a word to for decribing that a book (or whatever) has a purposful but concealed meaning.

    Comment by Shaina on April 21, 2006 @ 6:52 pm
  32. “”””””
    I’m looking for a word that means some who is a vegetarian but eats dairy products, eggs, and seafood
    that is what a basic vegetarian is
    if you don’t eat those things
    you’re a /vegan/

    Comment by digory on June 21, 2006 @ 2:26 pm
  33. “1- some one who uses large words inapropriatly / uses to many of them when they speak or 2- just the inapropriate use of long/complicated words.”

    try sesquipedalian or pleonasm

    Comment by kendra on August 23, 2006 @ 6:21 pm
  34. I’m looking for a word that describes something is constantly changing or something that is never the same. I can only come up with flutuate. Do you have something better? Need ASAP Thank you.

    Comment by Nancy Thomas on October 9, 2006 @ 7:41 am
  35. Here are a few: volatile, variable, dynamic, phantasmagoria, capricious, fickle, flexible, unstable, vacillating, waffling, wavering.

    Comment by dan on October 9, 2006 @ 2:18 pm
  36. I need a word for a common area of an apartment complex, what the building surround, etc. Doesn’t necessarily have to be apartments, just a open area in the building.

    Comment by jeff on January 21, 2007 @ 8:17 pm
  37. A search on the reverse dictionary resulted in: court, yard, cloister, atrium, patio, courtyard, quadrangle, plaza and pavilion (among others). Do any of those work?

    Comment by dan on January 22, 2007 @ 8:02 am
  38. What is the word for someone you preaches about not doing it and then turns around and does it?

    Comment by Rachel on January 24, 2007 @ 10:41 am
  39. A hypocrite.

    Comment by dan on January 24, 2007 @ 10:43 am
  40. Thanks I was think it was that but I wasn’t sure.

    Comment by Rachel on January 24, 2007 @ 12:55 pm
  41. Hi
    I am looking for an adjective that describes someone who only takes the amount of time and attention due to them. It’s not undemanding- so far no good in Oneword


    Comment by mike on February 8, 2007 @ 5:56 pm
  42. Humble?

    Comment by dan on February 8, 2007 @ 6:05 pm
  43. Thomas, the word you are looking for is “emo”.

    Comment by Anonymous on February 9, 2007 @ 8:41 pm
  44. I am looking for the word that is described in Socrates Ethics. It describes the phenomenon when someone knows something has bad consequences, but they choose to do it because it induces immediate pleasure. The word starts with an a. Does anyone have a clue? I tried reverse look up, no luck.

    Comment by Angela on March 20, 2007 @ 9:12 am
  45. Angela: Are you 100% positive that the word starts with “a”?. Aristotle said incontinence is bad behavior motivated by passion for immediate pleasure. That comes as close to your definition than anything I’ve found. Other possibilities include hedonist, bon vivant, debauchee, epicurean, glutton, gourmand, lecher, libertine, pleasure seeker, pleasuremonger, profligate, rake, sensualist, sybarite, thrill-seeker, voluptuary.

    Comment by dan on March 20, 2007 @ 10:45 am
  46. Hi Dan,

    I’m fairly sure, since I remember writing it down in my ancient philosophy class. I might just have to pull out my old notebooks….
    Thank you for investigating this! And that’s hilarious that incontinence has dual meaning:)Urination does have a certain pleasure factor about it.


    Comment by Angela on March 20, 2007 @ 1:43 pm
  47. Hi,

    Does anyone know the term for a person who faints at the sight of blood?
    Also, in either Greek or Roman mythology, what is the term for a person who has seen the future, tries to warn others but others just ignore the person? It was based off a woman who was told not to view something. She did it anyway and as punishment she was doomed to always know the future, but no one would ever believe her when she tried to warn them.

    Thanks so much!!

    Comment by Von on October 16, 2007 @ 12:15 pm
  48. does anyone know the word for to gather a crop?

    Comment by SEXY LADY on December 6, 2007 @ 6:35 pm
  49. Harvest

    Comment by dan on December 7, 2007 @ 10:49 am
  50. Hi,
    I’d like to find the word means : person doing things in a brief and fast way.

    Comment by Mark on January 31, 2008 @ 6:45 am
  51. Efficient.

    Comment by dan on January 31, 2008 @ 8:24 pm
  52. Does anyone know if there is a word that describes a woman who ‘keeps’ a man or a woman who pays a man to have sex with her?

    Comment by jaytea on February 13, 2008 @ 5:05 pm
  53. The wording is a bit confusing. Who’s paying who?

    Comment by dan on February 13, 2008 @ 5:28 pm
  54. if your job is to turn something on what would your title be?

    ex: turn on the stars

    Comment by rach on February 24, 2008 @ 5:01 pm
  55. hi, i need to know the word that describes snappy names on t shirts for example: saucy sally. does anybody know this or a website that can help you make them up?

    Comment by caitlin on February 27, 2008 @ 7:12 am
  56. rach: It depends what the person is turning on. I don’t know of any word for “one who turns something on”.

    caitlin: I’m not aware of a word that describes that, nor of a website that will help you make them up.

    Comment by dan on February 27, 2008 @ 1:21 pm
  57. Hey, I’m Kim…I came across this website when I was trying to find a word…I am looking for the word that describes – when you know the definition of a word..just not the actual word you are trying to describe. lol If anyone understands what I am on about and even knows the word then please tell me…cos its driving me insane lol thanks Kim x

    Comment by Kim on March 9, 2008 @ 11:14 am
  58. That’s an interesting question, but I can’t think of any words that describe that situation.

    Comment by dan on March 9, 2008 @ 8:55 pm
  59. I’m trying to think of a word that means someone who loves to be looked at, someone who thrives on attention from others. I think it’s an adjective that ends with istic such as nebulistic. It’s driving me crazy. Please help.

    Comment by Suzanne on April 16, 2008 @ 1:17 pm
  60. Suzanne: Narcissist?

    Comment by Dan on April 16, 2008 @ 4:16 pm
  61. I’m trying to find the word that means “someone who can recognize the faults in others but not their own”

    Comment by Robert on April 24, 2008 @ 1:09 pm
  62. I haven’t come up with anything. The only words I’m able to find describe someone who finds fault with others, but I haven’t found one that includes ignoring ones own faults.

    Comment by Dan on April 27, 2008 @ 10:43 pm
  63. I need the word for this definition: A system of government where the powers are divided between the states and the central government

    Comment by Scott on May 6, 2008 @ 11:15 pm
  64. Scott: I looked through this list of different forms of government but didn’t see any matching that definition.

    Comment by Dan on May 7, 2008 @ 1:37 pm
  65. Hey, does anyone know the word for someone who is great, but not because they want the fame and they are not trying to famous. In a way it could be humble, but thats not exactly the word im looking for. please help!

    Comment by caroline on May 11, 2008 @ 7:00 pm
  66. Here are a few possibilities: unpretentious, unaffected, modest, unassuming.

    Comment by Dan on May 12, 2008 @ 10:59 am
  67. what is the word to this defintion:to show land features?

    Comment by karen on September 11, 2008 @ 5:06 am
  68. I am having the same problem today for my homework

    Comment by Nishchay on November 24, 2008 @ 9:24 am
  69. Thanks for telling tht website ferdinagus

    Comment by Nishchay on November 24, 2008 @ 9:27 am
  70. need to find algebraic term for relationships that are always true of real numbers

    Comment by ashley on November 15, 2010 @ 5:04 pm
  71. I always have that problem it should be a book like a dictionary but backwards are you gettin me my names icess if u gettin me hit me back i will be waitin for ya post.

    Comment by Icess on August 9, 2011 @ 4:55 am
  72. @Icess I get you bro :)

    Comment by Dan on August 9, 2011 @ 8:54 am

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