I have attempted to access it through both NLTK and the web inteface:


Is there a freely (ie commercially) available, downloadable English dictionary I could use in its place?

2 Answers 2


WordNet is not a dictionary but a semantic lexical database. The key function of WordNet is to create a network of semantic relationships between words (synonyms, meronyms, etc.) So it makes sense it would only focus on content words and not function words (which is what stop words are).

There are many free online dictionaries - depends on what you need one for.

Wiktionary is really comprehensive and it has a machine-readable downloadable version.

  • Thanks. I suspected that, though still find it disappointing. I have downloaded Wiktionary in XML form through the link on the FAQ page--is that what you were referring to, or is there a copy that's more structured? The categories (eg, "===Pronoun===") lack well structured tags / metadata. Also, can you recommend a few of the free online dictionaries, preferably ones that may be used commercially? Thanks
    – zadrozny
    Oct 26, 2015 at 17:00

Similar to what Dominik mentioned, WordNet is not a dictionary but rather a list (and growing) of word senses for each word in English. Originally started as a psychology project, it has grown since then.

For example of WordNet, think of the word "bank", it can mean:

1.) a financial institution


2.) an area by the river

WordNet (ideally) is supposed to capture all of these senses (and many more - but for the sake of this example, I'll just list these two). So to answer your title question, those stop words don't need senses (and IMO - it is too complex to deal with).

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