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I am searching for an English and/or American English dictionary which enables me to search, for example

Nouns which begins/ends/includes the chunk 'exa'

Does anyone know such an online dictionary with this capabilities?

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  • There aren't any dictionaries with this capability. But you might try COCA, as mentioned in the answer below.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 5:49
  • @IͶΔ - Actually, let me provide a counterexample: OneLook, which allows for searches such as the O.P. is requesting.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 14:18
  • Odd, I had posted a comment with a link to the resources thread and OneLook before the question was moved, and it's disappeared. OneLook is linked in the resources thread btw.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 14:28
  • Oh, close as a dupe of resources Q? @Colleen
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:24
  • I don't know about closing it as a duplicate, but let's link the Resources for learning English thread to it.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:26
  • @Colleed - Odd indeed. Your comment is still on the original question. For some reason, the comment didn't migrate with the question.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:54

4 Answers 4

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The dictionary site OneLook has search features like those. You can use wildcard symbols for letters, and limit the search to certain parts of speech as well.

Here's an example, using the parameters you put forth in your question (i.e., nouns containing exa).

For what it's worth, 36 words were found:

(1) adnexa (2) alexandrite (3) annexation (4) counterexample (5) dexamethasone (6) exacerbation (7) exacta (8) exaction (9) exactitude (10) exactness (11) exaggeration (12) exaltation (13) exam (14) examen (15) examination (16) examinee (17) examiner (18) example (19) exanthem (20) exanthema (21) exarch (22) exarchate (23) exasperation (24) hexachlorophene (25) hexagon (26) hexagram (27) hexahedron (28) hexameter (29) hexane (30) indexation (31) inexactitude (32) inexactness (33) methotrexate (34) reexamination (35) sexagenarian (36) vexation

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I can recommend you the Corpus of Contemporary American English. A Corpus is a set of texts written in a certain language. You can find many of them online and they are a very good source of research for collocations, phrasing and word choice as native speakers would do. It's not a dictionary, though. I'm afraid you can find the words there and then, if you don't know their meaning, get a dictionary to help you.

You can search for words which contain chunks like this:

*exa

For words which end in "exa"

exa*

For words which start with "exa"

*exa*

For words which contain "exa"

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  • I might amend to suggest the corpus.byu.edu as a whole, which offers several different corpora in addition to the COCA. It has become even more useful now that Oxford has discontinued the simple search functions on the BNC.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 20:55
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The other answers have pointed out COCA and OneLook, both of which are excellent resources. I'd like to add a few more:

  • The excellent Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English lets you search for *exa*, but you'll notice it sometimes takes a bit longer for the page to load. That's because it's not just searching headwords, but definitions as well! So for example, physical shows up because the definition contains the word examination.

  • If you click 'advanced search' on Ben Zimmer's Vocabulary.com, you can search for words beginning with exa, and you can limit it to nouns, too. This has some other neat functions, like letting you search for words that rhyme with your search term, so depending on what you want, this could be very useful!

  • You can also search Wiktionary for words beginning with exa by searching for exa*, but the site currently doesn't have a function to search for words ending in exa.

If you're a computer person, you can download word lists and use grep on your own computer.

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While the other answers give more user-friendly options, I often use the Visca.com Regex Dictionary which allows more powerful matching (e.g., ^[aeiou].*exa$ for a word starting with a vowel that ends in exa — it only matches "adnexa") and also supports part of speech matching. For letters that appear anywhere in a word, it would just be exa.

See also this regex quick start guide.

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