Words should be free.

We are an education venture seeking volunteers to contribute to an open source project to create the world's first truly free dictionary. While there are many dictionaries that claim to be free, none of them are actually free in the truest sense of the word. Our vision is to create a dictionary so free that any person, organization, or company can freely download the entire dictionary database, including all supporting files, and legally do anything they want with it. The ability to download these files will require nothing from the downloader, aside from acknowledging a "these files are provided as-is, use at your own risk" message. There will be no requirements for access: they won't have to sign up, agree to complex terms of use, or provide their email or any other information - they'll just click a link on a publicly available website and gain full access. There will be no required attribution, links, notifications, limitations, or requirements of any kind and any usage will be explicitly permitted, including personal, educational, non-profit, and for-profit commercial use. Due to varying requirements in the world's many legal jurisdictions, there may technically be a need to release the work with a license, such as the Creative Commons CC0 license, which is effectively a formal release of content to the public domain.

In addition to the raw dictionary data being made available, free and open source software will be provided to allow access to the data by both automated systems and human beings. Automated access will be provided by application programming interface (API) software and human access will be provided by website software. Both of these software packages will be installable on standard server hardware, such as can be leased from various cloud computing providers for as little as $5 per month. These two software packages will be offered as a convenience for those with limited technical ability, but of course anyone will be free to create their own API, website, or other product using the database. Further, our free offerings will be designed to allow removal of any default branding (such as our open source project name and logo) and replacement with a custom name, color scheme, and styling.

The above deliverables enable a wealth of valuable end user scenarios:

  1. An individual or organization could create a custom-branded dictionary site on an inexpensive cloud server (or one of their own servers) with no ads and no traffic limitations aside from the capabilities of the server itself.
  2. A developer could support their app's dictionary needs for free with our database and API without any requirements to attribute, link, pay, or worry about copyright issues now or in the future.
  3. An academic or research group could use the database in any way they see fit without having to deal with a 3rd party data owner who may limit their ability to freely work with the dictionary data as desired.

The possibilities are really endless when you have 100% control and access to the data you need.

This is a huge project that would cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars for one company to create alone. It's no wonder some of the existing dictionary providers go to such lengths to protect and monetize their data. For example, some will not allow local caching of data, forcing you to make a request over the Internet to their database server for every single word you want to look up... and to pay for every one of those individual requests. To be clear, we respect their copyright and ownership of their data as well as their right to provide access to their data in any way they see fit. Of course that is their right. But we don't have to like it. And it doesn't have to be our only option. We want to have a truly free option. We are willing to donate the time and resources to create and maintain the technical aspects of this project. We need help from linguists, lexicographers, and wordies of all kinds to help create and maintain the dictionary content.

If you've ever been frustrated by the requirements of leasing access to dictionary data... if you've ever worried about the possibility of getting in trouble for using dictionary data that wasn't legally obtained... if you believe words should be free and the world would benefit from a truly free dictionary, please consider joining our effort!

Please contact us if you'd like to be a part of this effort.