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Info updated: 2019-07-24
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Webonary gives language groups the ability to put their bilingual or multilingual dictionaries on the web with a minimum of technical help. Each dictionary is built around a search bar, which looks for a word throughout the dictionary, and returns the most relevant results to the top of the list.

Features and Distinctives

The most distinctive characteristic of Webonary is its search bar. Looking for a word? Type it in the search, like an ordinary search engine.

The search returns results based on relevance. That is, if the word you are looking for is found in a headword, that will be more important than finding the word in a definition for another word. “Reversal indexes,” also called “gloss to vernacular,” can also be imported from FLEx into Webonary. Furthermore, the search can also be filtered for a specific language, if desired, or even by part of speech or semantic domain.

Informational pages can easily be made. Comments can be turned on or off.

Webonary uses WordPress code for a foundation, arguably the best known and best supported blogging software in the world. It is used by more than 56% of the sites that use a content management system uses WordPress. WordPress allows for endless variation using themes.

The software can run on Linux, Windows, or Mac.

Working Sites

Webonary has been evolving for a while now.

In a collaborative effort, The Cherokee Nation Foundation partnered with SIL International to develop the Cherokee Electronic Dictionary Project   which the Cherokee said is “critical to the continuing revitalization of the Cherokee language.” This was the pilot project for Webonary, and proved to be a success.

The Nousu-Yi-Chinese-English Glossary is nearly complete. This site showcases Yi and Chinese scripts working together with the Roman script for English.

The Webonary WordPress theme webonary-zeedisplay can be used for an ordinary website or blog. We are using it for this site.


Webonary is available to all. Since it is built with WordPress, the code is open-source and licensed through GPL.

Data Formats Supported

The following data formats are supported in Webonary:


FieldWorks Language Exploror (FLEx) has the ability to export a Configured Dictionary in XHTML format. This file can be imported by Webonary.


You will need to convert your data to a format called "LIFT XML." The format is supported by FLEx and Lexique Pro. Quoting our friends who produced WeSay: “If your dictionary is very simple, you may be able to convert [your Toolbox data] to LIFT using Lexique Pro. A bit more complicated, and you should use FLEx. Finally, the average 10 year old linguist-produced Toolbox dictionary will probably need days of cleanup. We suggest using SOLID as the first stage of that, and the FLEx SFM import as the second stage. Due to SFM’s inherent inadequacies with respect to representing hierarchical data, this cleanup is often a ‘computer consultant’ level job. 

Comparison to Lexique Pro

Lexique Pro is a fine piece of software, one that some have used to put their dictionaries online. However, we had a number of reasons for creating Webonary.

One was that Lexique Pro requires a computer to retrieve all the dictionary entries for a particular letter before it can display one entry, which can take a long time if the dictionary has a lot of entries. The approach Webonary uses allows fast searching for a single entry or even a single word.

Since Webonary is based on WordPress code, support is not limited to a single software developer. Millions of people use WordPress worldwide.

Lexique Pro runs only on Windows. Webonary runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Support free, email author
Status Stable/Production
SIL Status Supported
Runs on Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Unicode compatible Yes
Interface language(s) English, Chinese, Yi
Developed by
License GPL (GNU Public License)