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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  WNINTRO (3)


wnintro - introduction to WordNet library functions


List Of Wordnet Library Functions
     Database Searching Functions (search.o)
     Morphology Functions (morph.o)
     Utility Functions (wnutil.o)
     Binary Search Functions (binsrch.o)
Header File
Environment Variables (unix)
Registry (windows)
See Also


This section of the WordNet Reference Manual contains manual pages that describe the WordNet library functions and API.

Functions are organized into the following categories:

CategoryManual PageObject File
Database Searchwnsearch (3WN)search.o
Morphologymorph (3WN)morph.o
Misc. Utilitywnutil (3WN)wnutil.o
Binary Searchbinsrch (3WN)binsrch.o

The WordNet library is used by all of the searching interfaces provided with the various WordNet packages. Additional programs in the system, such as grind(1WN), also use functions in this library.

The WordNet library is provided in both source and binary forms (on some platforms) to allow users to build applications and tools to their own specifications that utilize the WordNet database. We do not provide programming support or assistance.

The code conforms to ANSI C standards. Functions are defined with function prototypes. If you do not have a compiler that accepts prototypes, you must edit the source code and remove the prototypes before compiling.


Not all library functions are listed below. Missing are mainly functions that are called by documented ones, or ones that were written for specific applications or tools used during WordNet development. Data structures are defined in wn.h.

    Database Searching Functions (search.o)

findtheinfo Primary search function for WordNet database. Returns formatted search results in text buffer. Used by WordNet interfaces to perform requested search.
findtheinfo_ds Primary search function for WordNet database. Returns search results in linked list data structure.
is_defined Set bit for each search type that is valid for the search word passed and return bit mask.
in_wn Set bit for each syntactic category that search word is in.
index_lookup Find word in index file and return parsed entry in data structure. Input word must be exact match of string in database. Called by getindex().
getindex Find word in index file, trying different techniques - replace hyphens with underscores, replace underscores with hyphens, strip hyphens and underscores, strip periods.
read_synset Read synset from data file at byte offset passed and return parsed entry in data structure. Calls parse_synset().
parse_synset Read synset at current byte offset in file and return parsed entry in data structure.
free_syns Free a synset linked list allocated by findtheinfo_ds().
free_synset Free a synset structure.
free_index Free an index structure.
traceptrs_ds Recursive search algorithm to trace a pointer tree and return results in linked list.
do_trace Do requested search on synset passed returning formatted output in buffer.

    Morphology Functions (morph.o)

morphinit Open exception list files.
re_morphinit Close exception list files and reopen.
morphstr Try to find base form (lemma) of word or collocation in syntactic category passed. Calls morphword() for each word in string passed.
morphword Try to find base form (lemma) of individual word in syntactic category passed.

    Utility Functions (wnutil.o)

wninit Top level function to open database files and morphology exception lists.
re_wninit Top level function to close and reopen database files and morphology exception lists.
cntwords Count the number of underscore or space separated words in a string.
strtolower Convert string to lower case and remove trailing adjective marker if found.
ToLowerCase Convert string passed to lower case.
strsubst Replace all occurrences of from with to in str.
getptrtype Return code for pointer type character passed.
getpos Return syntactic category code for string passed.
getsstype Return synset type code for string passed.
FmtSynset Reconstruct synset string from synset pointer.
StrToPos Passed string for syntactic category, returns corresponding integer value.
GetSynsetForSense Return synset for sense key passed.
GetDataOffset Find synset offset for sense.
GetPolyCount Find polysemy count for sense passed.
GetWORD Return word part of sense key.
GetPOS Return syntactic category code for sense key passed.
WNSnsToStr Generate sense key for index entry passed.
GetValidIndexPointer Search for string and/or base form of word in database and return index structure for word if found.
GetWNSense Return sense number in database for sense key.
GetSenseIndex Return parsed sense index entry for sense key passed.
default_display_message Default function to use as value of display_message. Simply returns -1.

    Binary Search Functions (binsrch.o)

bin_search General purpose binary search function to search for key as first item on line in sorted file.
copyfile Copy contents from one file to another.
replace_line Replace a line in a sorted file.
insert_line Insert a line into a sorted file.


wn.h WordNet include file of constants, data structures, external declarations for global variables initialized in wnglobal.c. Also lists function prototypes for library API. It must be included to use any WordNet library functions.


All library functions that access the database files expect the files to be open. The function wninit(3WN) must be called before other database access functions such as findtheinfo(3WN) or read_synset(3WN).

Inclusion of the header file wn.h is necessary.

The command line interface is a good example of a simple application that uses several WordNet library functions.

Many of the library functions are passed or return syntactic category or synset type information. The following table lists the possible categories as integer codes, synset type constant names, syntactic category constant names, single characters and character strings.

IntegerSynset TypeSyntactic CategoryCharString


WNHOME Base directory for WordNet. Default is /usr/local/WordNet-3.0.
WNSEARCHDIR Directory in which the WordNet database has been installed. Default is WNHOME/dict.


  Base directory for WordNet. Default is C:\Program~Files\WordNet\3.0.


lib/libwn.a WordNet library (Unix)
lib\wn.lib WordNet library (Windows)
include header files for use with WordNet library


wnintro(1WN), binsrch(3WN), morph(3WN), wnsearch(3WN), wnutil(3WN), wnintro(5WN), wnintro(7WN).

Fellbaum, C.(1998), ed. "WordNet: An Electronic Lexical Database". MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.


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WordNet 3.0 WNINTRO (3WN) Dec 2006

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