Google Psyche: Autocomplete for 'What's the Word For ...'

By Megan Garber
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You know the word you want. You just can't think of the word you want. And you're not quite sure, even, how to find the word you want. 

If you can't turn to a friend to ask, for example, "Hey, what's that word for when you can't think of the word you want to use?"... you can turn to Google. What is that word for "good friend"? Turns out, it's an adjective: "dependable," "sincere," "true." (Aw.)

Another way to crowdsource your thesaurus-y needs is to search "what's the word for": 

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You could also be more specific in your searching: 

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Or you could be more general: 

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"Controlling blood flow"? "In a dying state"? Wait, what's that word for "confusion"?

 

Google Psyche is an exploration of the stories that the world's Internet searches tell. The company's autocomplete algorithm predicts the word a random web searcher is most likely to type next, providing a statistical probe for our collective consciousness.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/google-psyche-autocomplete-for-whats-the-word-for/252036/