Getting More Information

I do a lot of reading on my iPad and iPhone. Often, when reading a news article, book, or web page, there is something I see that I want more information about. I might want to see the definition of a word, or get more details about a phrase. If you find yourself in the same situation, there is a very easy way to look up definitions and get more information when using your iPhone and iPad.

Setting Up

Your device should already be set up for this to work, but just to make sure, go to Settings, tap General, and then Dictionary:

If you’re in the US, you should have the three items shown above selected. If you’re in another country, you’ll have different items selected.

If there are no items with checkmarks, find the ones that are right for you and tap on them to select them.

Looking Up a Word

When you’re reading on your device and see a word you’d like more information about, simply tap and hold on the word for a moment. You’ll then see a short menu. For example, in this news article, I tap and hold on the word dextrous:

Next, tap on Look Up in that menu and you’ll see different types of information about that word. If this is the first time you’ve used look-up, you may see an information panel first. Just tap continue.

First you’ll see the dictionary definition of the word, and if relevant, a thesaurus listing. If there is an arrow on the right side of an item, tapping it will show more details. To return from the details, tap the back arrow at the top of the screen.

Below the dictionary information are some other sections with different types of information. The sections you’ll see depend on the word you’ve highlighted and may include Siri suggestions, news articles, links to songs, movies, or books, related apps, maps, and more.

Entries without an arrow on the right will take to you a web page or another app when you tap on them. For example, in the Siri Suggested Websites section, there’s an entry called HomePage | Biomimetics and Dextrous Maniuplation Lab. Tapping that entry will launch Safari and take you to the web site:

When you are finished with the web site, you can easily get back to where you were by tapping the back arrow at the top of the page.

Note: if you are editing a document (such as a Note or an email) and the keyboard is showing, then you will need to double tap on the word to highlight it instead of using tap and hold.


When you are finished with the word look up, tap Done at the top of the screen to return to your article.

Looking Up a Phrase

If there is more than one word that makes up a phrase you’d like to look up, you start the same way by tapping and holding the first word in the phrase. Then, tap and drag the little handle at the end of the word to continue highlighting the phrase you’re interested in. Once the words are highlighted, lift your finger. This can be a little tricky to do, but with practice you’ll find it becomes easier. Tip: move your finger slowly.

Once you have the phrase highlighted, the steps are the same as above.

Easy Knowledge!

This is a pretty simple way to find quick information while reading without having to jump out to a different app or web site. I hope you find it useful.

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