Many people learn English as a second language. In fact, one of our team members started speaking english at 20 years old. While many online and physical dictionaries are widely available, none of them seem to answer the question of connotation. She and many others have had to learn the connotative nature of our language the hard way. For this reason, we have created an online Connotation Dictionary to help foreigners learn English with more ease, and avoid embarrassment through subtly connotative words.

What it does

The Connotation Dictionary is just like a search engine. The user searches the word he is looking for, then it returns word's definitions, connotations, and the etymology.

How we built it


  1. We designed the look of the application.
  2. Created the user interface from the design using HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, and jQuery.


  1. Scrape dictionaries and etymology websites using PHP.
  2. We used Vader Sentiment, a php library to determine the connotations of the words from their definitions.
  3. Then, we connected back-end to front-end.

Challenges we ran into

  1. Were not able to implement scraping in time on etymology website.
  2. When we passed a php two-dimensional array to javascript, it became a string. Took a very long time to figure out how to properly parse and deal with the data.
  3. The biggest struggle we had was our attempt to interface python with the rest of our code. We struggled to pass variables from front end to php to python and return it to front end once again. We eventually decided scrap the python and find a php library to process the definitions instead.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The design looks simple, and modern. The scraping is functional and we were able to integrate the back end and front end successfully.

What we learned

Learned more in-depth in PHP. (parsing PHP two-dimensional array to javascript, hosting PHP locally, ) We learned how to work as a team. Learned networking skills - only two of the four of us had met before. Learned how to manage time better.

What's next for Connotation Dictionary

  1. We would scrape from more dictionary websites to make our connotation algorithm more robust.
  2. Add more features such as synonyms and pronunciations.
  3. Give examples how to use in a sentence correctly.
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