A for Artha, The Awesome offline Dictionary for Linux

One area that I have always found lacking on Linux is a good Dictionary software. I have tired quite a few free and opensource dictionary software for linux, some  very good, but non had the WOW factor to keep me using them again and again.  Well that was until I stumbled (no pun intended) on Artha (yeah I know free software apps and their funny names :D )

Artha is a free cross-platform English thesaurus that works completely off-line and is based on WordNet. It is released under the GNU General Public Licence version



Although a gtk app  it has very little gnome dependencies (So KDE fans dont have to worry -much. Yeah yeah I know its would have been better if written in Qt but then “what can we do”  :(  ) However Artha has tons of features to make anyone (Gnome, Kde, whatever floats your boat) Drool.

  • Offline : Unlike most dictionaries which can only be used if you are online. Artha works completely offline. So if you like me are not completely bought up by all this cloud computing craze and live in Africa where Internet sucks. Then Artha is a no brainer for you.  (Even if you are lucky and have highspeed internet Artha is also a no brainer :) )
  • Regular Expressions Search : OK lets say there is a word you  vaguely know or you are unclear as to its meaning or spelling. (Happens to me a lot ) you can speed up/narrow the search using regular expression to locate the particular word they have in mind.
  • Suggestions : Say you mispelled a word Artha can give you near matching suggestions (I also love this)
  • Relative to Sense Mapping : Artha doesn’t just give you the meaning of words. It so includes words like Synonyms, antonyms. When you Select a relative its corresponding definition is scrolled and highlighted for easy comprehension.

The Awesomest  Feature that rules them all : Yeah I saved best for the last.  For me the feature of Artha which kills every other Dictionary software out there is its support for Notifications.  Here is how it works – Lets say I was going through my RSS reader and I found a word am not familiar with I just need to highlight the word, press the keyboard combination Ctrl+Alt+W (Which can be changed to any key combo that suits you) The meaning of the word gets displayed as a Notification Bubble .

Hence I can easily check the meaning of the word without having to launch the application window.

The notification feature of Artha is supported system wide and works with just about every application which support text highlighting.


Ubuntu / Debian : Although Artha is available in the Ubuntu / Debian Repository The version there is quite dated. However the latest version has been compiled to .deb and can be downloaded from   here

Fedora (Leonidas/11 or above) :  Artha can be installed with

yum install artha

Note* The version in the Fedora Reposittory is 0.9.1

Other Linuxes : If a binary package is not available for your distribution, you can easy download the source code from here and follow this installation instructions on how to compile from source.

Configuration: After installation, the rest is easy. When you start Artha Its minimizes in the Notification area of your desktop.  From the application window you can easily set you keyboard short cut by clicking on the settings. The default keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Alt-W.  By default the Notification feature is disabled but can be easily enabled by right clicking on the notification area icon. The rest is easy.

I found Artha to be very useful and goes a long way to enhance my workflow and user experience.  I hope someone find this useful.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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  • Neil Munro

    Just installed it, it's awesome! Thanks for this dude!

  • lucky

    just installed it, works great, thanks for the tip

  • nobu

    wow, great ! my friend was looking for a good dictionary a while ago, I'll send him a link to this post :)

  • Parameshwara Bhat

    I am impressed by the description and the comments of those who have tried.But,don't you think,
    “(yeah I know free software apps and their funny names :D )”.
    'Artha' is Sanskrit for Meaning.Sanskrit is the classical language of India,sister to Latin and Greek.

    • / bigbrovar

      Oh Thanks for enlightening me with the meaning. I would update my post and add the translation. I feel so bad and guilty for making fun of the name already :(

  • http://www.tabula0rasa.org/ Oz

    I wish they include support for other dictionaries and translations.

    GodenDict does it … But it's QT app… :-( hurts my pure GTK approach …

    • / bigbrovar

      Artha is more like a frontend for Wordnet. so I would check out if Wordnet support multiple dictionaries

  • happyeclair

    This is cool! Thanks for sharing it. :) I am also trying it out now, thanks to you. I love it.

  • http://www.johannes-eva.net/ Johannes

    Thanks for this review, I'll give Artha a try. And thanks to Parameshwara for the Sanskrit translation!

  • kr

    not sure who the developers are but artha may be from hindi where arth means meaning >

  • kr

    not sure who the developers are but artha may be from hindi where arth means meaning >

  • kr

    not sure who the developers are but artha may be from hindi where arth means meaning >

  • http://sourceforge.net/projects/bleedingedge/ fedelep

    Great tool. I have added it to BleedingEdge.

  • patrickeb

    Okay, okay. I'll say it. I don't want to, but I will.

    I installed this and was surprised by how good it was and it's amazing.

    Good enough? No?

    I hate being just like everyone else who thinks it's soooooooo good.

    :) )))

    Seriously. Good work here. I like it enormously and will be recommending it to others in my local and other LUGs.

    I like the colours and theme of your blog too. Very nice.

  • http://wiki.ubuntu.com/MagicFab Fabian Rodriguez

    Ubuntu Lucid will not include the latest version either. For Ubuntu only packages in Debian stable are sync’ed. The latest Artha version is still in Debian unstable. For an explanation of why Ubuntu current versions have “older” software, see:

  • http://twitter.com/muyiscoi Muyiwa Iyowu

    w0w!! didnt know u had a blog Mr. Bigbrovar. n its so nice looking too. this issue of offline dictionary has also affected me alot. i eventually fell back to a dated java app i found that could load .sdict files (jalingo). i had to then hunt down the relevant .sdict files and install them. needless to say, it wasnt a very satisfying fix. for one, the app was slow to launch (i guess cos its java based), and it had an annoying splash screen that could not be disabled which further increased the delay time. i am yet to try this but from what i've read, i believe it will be much better than others i've used.

  • http://www.ajtnt.com Trailers for Sale

    welcome and congratulation to you from Trailers for Sale will be nicer

  • http://www.olumidealabi.com Luminus

    Great stuff Bobby. I love Artha. It was one of the first things I sought out when making the jump from Windows to Linux as I used WordWeb quite a lot on Windows and really wanted a replacement.

    Artha did it for me because it was based on the very same WordNet engine.

  • chinkal

    agreed that it is a great dictionary. Great post! :) Just wanted to add that the word “artha” is a hindi word for “meaning”. A well thought name for a dictionary!