#2263: Stressearch

When I’m trying to recall a name or fill in a crossword clue, I often find myself knowing the correct stress pattern without being able to remember the exact word(s).

For example, I spent a week last year trying to recall the name of the actor who played ‘The Joker’ most recently. His name was ‘blah blah-blah’, with his first name beginning with H…maybe.


Today’s invention is a dictionary plug-in which helps with this kind of tip of the tongue memory recall.

Since online dictionaries usually contain both phoneme and stress pattern information (eg ‘Definition’ ?def-?-?nish-?n ), a user would be able to narrow his search for a word or phrase by specifying the pattern of stresses in such a nebulous memory trace eg blah-blah, blah-blah-blah.

This would be particularly useful to poets who often search for a particular sound pattern with an appropriate meaning, I’m told. It would also have helped when I was trying recently to remember the names of the early North American explorers, blah-blah and Clark.

I find it interesting that we seem to store such a rhythmic representation, but that the link to the specific sounds is harder to make.


  1. Comment by rob tillaart

    Soundex – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonetic_algorithm

    syllables sorted dictionary;
    all words that have a certain syllable are listed after it. optionally with position?
    2ven: invention, inventive, …

    semantic dictionary, dictionary that list the words it is connected to in descending order. (rebuild google :)

  2. Comment by Patrick

    Don’t joke about rebuilding Google! I think we need serious alternatives to the primitive idea of (indexing + heuristics). Just like we need alternatives to the Von Neumann architecture. eg http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729045.400-the-computer-that-never-crashes.html

    Syllable sorting looks like a good idea to me. Just a pity that poets have little money to pay for it.

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