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Dear Administrators,

I have a challenge in finding any result for "put on" as a verb in the entries.
I've read this topic

@AmosDuveen guided well how to get a response for phrasal verbs from api. Based on this guid I tried these for "put on" as the verb:


And I do not get a response! While when I try for other words such as "turn on" or "look forward to", it gives results.


Note that I don't mean put-on (hyphen) as a Noun. API via this endpoint
gives correctly its lexicalCategory : Noun.

Could you please have a look and help me to figure out the functionality?

Kind Regards,


  • AmosDuveenAmosDuveen Member, Administrator, Moderator admin
    edited February 2018

    Hi @laraman,

    Each of our dictionary entries has a standard form (the headword, e.g. in your case "put something on"). Unfortunately, one of the limitations we have is that only the headword form is searchable so you need to target that exact spelling to get a valid response.

    Compounds are especially problematic as they may take different forms. Etymologically, they often start life as separate words ("space-broken") and as familiarity sets in with usage and often a more distinctive meaning, they come together over time ("unbroken" e.g. "cupboard", which was originally a shelf known as a "cup board"); sometimes they have an intermediate stage where they are joined with a hyphen ("hyphen-broken"). As you have probably guessed by now, the distinction between unbroken, hyphen-broken, and space-broken compounds is not always clear-cut and there is a great deal of overlap in people's usage. The mess is further compounded by the fact that, as is the case with "put on" and "put-on", when viewed in isolation, there is the distinct possibility of confusion with a phrasal verb.

    We haven't left you hanging entirely, however, we have provided another endpoint called "search", which can be used to take user inputs, however mistaken, and suggest likely entries so if you make a call to .../search/en?q=put%20on&prefix=false, the first suggestion in the response is "put-on" (the noun sense you didn't want) but, further down the list, you come to "put_something_on", which is the verb sense I think you were after.

    The idea is that these two endpoints can be used in combination to take any input, even if miss-spelt, and retrieve an entry. We are looking into ways in which we can smooth over some of the workings of this process, but as you can tell from this example, it isn't always easy, especially when, as was the case here, the most obvious answer from the data perspective wasn't the answer you wanted.

  • laramanlaraman Member
    edited February 2018

    Dear @AmosDuveen

    Thank you so much for your explanation in details.

    Yes, I also had come to the same conclusion to use "search" endpoint for these cases. but I was not sure about it since it leads to one more api call. However, for such cases I see it is the only solution .

    All the best,

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