Dow Jones Launches a Wordnik-Powered Financial Dictionary

'Meaning discovery engine' will add words over time

Dow Jones-owned has launched a new tool to educate its readers about the world of personal finance—with help from online dictionary startup Wordnik.

The site unveiled a new financial glossary with more than 4,000 terms, illustrated with sentences from articles in The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and SmartMoney. General manager Gail Griffin said the glossary is a natural extension of SmartMoney's mission, which is (in part) "to really try to connect the news back to advice." At the same time, Griffin wanted to partner with a technology company, particularly to "take all of our content, the relevant sentences and descriptions, and connect it with different words."

Wordnik uses what CEO and president Joe Hyrkin calls the company's "meaning discovery engine" to pull in sample sentences from Dow Jones sites that (hopefully) illustrate a word's meaning and usage—and in the process, perhaps generating extra traffic for Dow Jones content. Wordnik's technology should also expand the financial glossary over time. Hyrkin said that Wordnik can detect when new terms become important in the financial headlines and add definitions accordingly.

"There's this interesting dance between standard financial terms that don't change that much and new ones that evolve based on what's happening," he said.

Not surprisingly, these technologically generated examples can have a few misses. For example, the sample sentence for "Black Friday" is "Only a handful of stocks were in the black Friday, most of which were bank shares."

But far more are spot-on, and since users can offer feedback on each entry, the system should improve over time.

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