How often do you crack open a dictionary when you see a word you don't know? Probably never.

So, what can Quizlet do about that? More than you can possibly imagine. Muahahaa

Friends, meet the awesome that is THE QUIZMARKLET: (to clarify, 'awesome' is a noun in colloquial teenage slang these days)

The Quizmarklet defines vocabulary words

(Get it here: The Quizmarklet)

Enough hyperbole. Here's what the Quizmarklet does:

Short story: You find a word you don't know on any web page, you select the word and activate Quizmarklet, which then defines the word for you and lets you save it to Quizlet for later studying.

Long story: You drag the Quizmarklet onto your bookmarks bar in your browser. Then you browse to any old website on the Internet and discover a word you don't know. So you select the word and click on the Quizmarklet link you added. Then some magic happens...

In a box overlayed on your current page, a list of definitions gets displayed. It's an instant dictionary! But that's not all...

You search through the definitions it gives you, find one you like, and click on it. Then you can save your word/definition pair directly into your Quizlet sets. To do that, you select a set (or have it automatically create a new one) and then click the "Save to Quizlet" button. The word and definition get saved for later use, and you can be on your way surfing the Internet once again.

The Quizmarklet is particularly useful for people who are studying for say, the SATs, and who need to bulk up on general vocabulary as fast as possible. They can be surfing the web as normal, and then BOOM whenever they come across a word they don't know, the definition and permanent storage is only a click away.

Okay, I'm done with the promotion now. The nitty-gritty: The Quizmarklet is something I cooked up all this weekend, so it might be a little rough around the edges. Please let me know if you discover any websites it DOESN'T work on - or ones where it looks funny. It's using a custom installation of the amazing (and free!) WordNet dictionary. It has over 200k terms listed. Note: The Quizmarklet does NOT use user-generated words and definitions from the main Quizlet website (yet).

When I consider it ready for mainstream Quizlet usage, I'll promote it elsewhere on the site. But for now, you, my loyal blog reader, get the first chance at this spanking-new feature. Enjoy!


  1. N(d)S

    I love it! It's really useful--thanks!

  2. Basheer

    Wow! What an amazing idea. Thanks ^_^d

  3. !!!!

    no!!! it didnt work! i right-clicked the link and put it into favorites, but when i highlight a word and then select it on the favorites menu, it didn't do anything!!!

  4. srcarlos

    I tried it. It works great. (even though it did not have the definition to multidisciplinary) :-)

    I saved it a quizlet set. I will give this to my students and have them try it out.


  5. Andrew

    Hey, !!! sorry to hear that :-x. Would you mind sending a feedback message (top-right corner). That will let me know more about your computer setup so I can pinpoint the problem.


  6. Basheer

    Maybe he bookmarked the link in the blog post? Because that's what I did until I figured out it was just a link to the page that had it.

  7. Andrew

    Ah sorry yeah I guess that would be easy enough. I couldn't get Wordpress to handle my l33t javascript codes, so I put it in another page. Yeah.

  8. mike

    somethign very very usefull, thansk you!!!

  9. Nik

    Awesome, Andrew. Brilliant idea, and well implemented. But I've said all that before. This is the first time I've actually used it, and, with all new developments, I encountered a few bugs:

    + Doesn't work with Gmail - at all. This is probably because of the strange javascript - dare I say ajax? - they've got going. Still, it kinda sucks.
    + In Firefox and Camino - and, I would imagine, all Gecko-based browsers - when you're not at the top of the page, you get a gray background and an X, but the box doesn't appear. You need to scroll to the top of the page to get the box with the content (that is, scroll to the top <em>before</em> you click the bookmarklet).
    + In Camino, you get an ugly bit of script in your address bar (javascript:void(qzblettxt=window.getSelection? ...)
    + The box doesn't appear instantaneously. But that's to be expected - the script needs to run, and it needs to communicate with Quizlet's servers. User feedback would be great, though. A nice, Applesque spinning image would go nicely while the script is working (I think the Tango desktop project offers one).

  10. sam

    yea its great - theoritically speaking for i have not used it yet but i will and contribute my comments once again!

  11. Amelia Bedilia


  12. Neil Kelty

    Thumbs up! A job well done.

  13. Heiswhoisnameless

    nice job, how about picture learning now.... (hoping)

  14. Miki

    Way to go! Thanks for up loading this.

  15. alicia


  16. alicia

    "Kiss your fax machine goodbye!"?!? I mean what's up with THAT?!

  17. alicia

    oh sorry that was 4 the ads

  18. alicia

    Okay, this is just sad. You don't have the word "virtual" in the Quizmarklet! What the heck?!

  19. @Nik: Of course it doesn't work with Gmail. A lot of things don't work with Gmail, because of all their fancy AJAX...

  20. Fyorl

    @Nik/Anonymous: I severely doubt GMail's Ajax implementation has anything to do with the script not working because at the end of the day all it's doing is manipulating X/HTML that has to be given to the browser in a readable way. My guess would be that the stupid amounts of frames GMail uses (yes, it actually uses frames) is messing up the script somewhere. Possibly because the document.selection refers to the document containing the frameset tag and so appears to have nothing selected as the actual selection is in another frame.

    Hope this helps in some way...

  21. Andrew

    Yes, it's definitely the frames. The Quizmarklet can't handle frames - unfortunatley. It's because the javascript can't find the text you're selecting if the selection focus isn't in the same window (frame) as the javascript environment. That problem goes past the capabilities of a bookmarklet, I'd venture :o

    I'm working on the other bugs tho. Nik's #2 should be fixed already.

  22. Fyorl

    I'm sure with a bit of poking you may be able to get quizmarklet working specifically with gmail's frame setup but you've got to weigh the extra processing time against the benefit of having it working with gmail.

    I could see it being quite important with gmail as there must be quite a few instances of someone sending you an email with a word in that you didn't know but it's probably not as useful as, say, browsing Wikipedia...

  23. JP

    Andrew this is a great tool. Very well done. I am intriged on how you did this. I am an avid computer fan and would like to know some of the things you use to make what you make.

  24. JP

    actually I've laid out designs for many computer programs but I just don't have the tools. kinda sucks.

  25. Andrew

    Fyorl, agreed. You drove me to dive a little deeper. The answer was just a google search away - you can do frames[ *index* ] .document.getSelection()... It's easy enough to iterate through them all. Then, potentially, I could insert into the current frame - but that could also be dangerous given the crazy things people do with frames these days. Maybe it would be better to go with a popup at that point. At this point I think the processing overhead is pretty insignificant - there aren't any js libraries involved and my included dynamic javascript file can be as long as I like.

    JP: I dunno, I did it just like I normally do - programming in <a href="" rel="nofollow">Textmate</a>, checking around in Safari, Firefox, and IE (with Parallels). It's your average Mac web developer environment I guess. Any specific questions?


  26. sup

    i was just bored and put this post... :)

    SAY CHEESE! :)


  27. jasonkhalili

    umm i guess its good...

  28. Nik

    @Andrew: Hmm, it's a problem. What's Gmail doing with frames? Annoying. I wouldn't go with a pop-up, if it's possible to avoid. They aren't too popular, though I suppose they aren't as annoying when the user initiates them. Still, they can operate unpredictably. At any rate, an in-window solution is more elegant. Would it be possible to attempt to do it in-window, and only use a pop-up when that fails?

  29. Helen

    If you could access Foreign language data bases it would be FAB for learning a FL and then practising the tricky vocab.

  30. Andrew

    Helen, Agreed. I've got a giant dictionary on Quizlet already - stuff from peoples' sets! Right now the Quizmarklet only displays strict dictionary data from my verified source, but I could very easily plug in the user-generated (less reliable, but more expansive) data. I would also want to tag it with something like "user-contributed" so that people would know that they're not dealing with an "official" definition.

    Nik - the thing about frames is that they can be all shapes and sizes. I don't want to risk inserting the box into a 100x100 frame because that's where the focus is. Make sense?

    So it's 1:40 and I need to be going to sleep now BUT...I figured out the Gmail thing - it's basically got a bunch of nested frames. I didn't look into how many or complex though, because I just coded a l33t recursive getSelection finder that cycles through all the frames and frames-within-frames (and on and on) on the page until it's found something or it's looked through everything.

    So with that code, I can successfully find the selection text in Gmail AND load in an external script. But the specific bookmarklet code for popovers is no-go, and I'm not terribly inclined to chase after making that work. Popup will work - I could probably even position the popup to be in the same place as the popover would go. They only difference would be a little bit of extra browser chrome.

    Phew. Nighty night!

  31. woojoo

    Yay! You made it a reality!

  32. Fyorl

    @Andrew: Good job by the way. I was just wondering why the pop-over was a no-go? Why do you have to insert the popover in a frame? Just take it out of all the frames and have it in its own div that's a direct child of the body tag. Then you can give that div an absolute position to the top left, a highish z-index for safety and 100% height and width. Give it a semi-transparent dark background and then put the actual content on that.

    Although, on closer inspection, it doesn't appear GMail doesn't have a root body tag. I did some experimenting in FireBug and it is possible to do what I suggested above, you just need to append a new body element to the html element before you insert the new div in there. Of course, that's not gonna work on other sites so to make it more general just do a quick check before adding the body element:


  33. Fyorl

    Uh well wordpress killed my javascript but I'm sure you can work it out for yourself just fine ;)

  34. Andrew

    Appending a body element, hah! Doesn't that like, break some rules of physics or something? That's so crazy that it <em>just might work</em>. Thanks for the insight.

    <blockquote>Then you can give that div an absolute position to the top left, a highish z-index for safety and 100% height and width. Give it a semi-transparent dark background and then put the actual content on that.</blockquote>

    You outlined my current setup to the T. That's exactly how it works now.

    I'm interested to see your javascript though - try posting it on and commenting with the URL it gives you. And if you (or anyone else) would like to discuss this further, hit me up via AIM @ QuizletSupport.

  35. Andrew

    I wonder what happens when a page inserts an iframe of itself. I should add a recursion stopper to make it only search 4 levels down or something.

    Thinking out loud... I should make a post to my code blog at

  36. Sue

    sigh. reading all these comments make me wanna go back to coding again.

  37. Sue


  38. Andrew

    Okay I'm feeling clever. I've got the Quizmarklet working 100% in Gmail in Safari and Firefox - haven't tried IE yet. This is sooooo wrong: - but it works. I have to save the bb variable for later so that Safari can insert into that - after inserting the &lt;body&gt; element it doesn't automatically get taken as document.body.

    Fun stuff. I've also got the dictionary taking user-contributed definitions as well.

    And of course, I haven't released all of this yet, but I will soon. SATs tomorrow! Good luck everyone!

  39. Fyorl

    @Andrew: Sorry for the late reply, I was at my dad's for the weekend so I had limited internet access. The code you've got there is basically what I had written except I didn't use '== 0' in the if statement, I used '

  40. Fyorl

    Goddammit. Let's hope Wordpress can handle html entities. That bit that got cut off was:

    '&lt; 1' but that's just good coding practice.

  41. mike

    i woudl liek to higlight the word in firefox and right click an dpick soemthign, because i do not use the bookmarkbar on firefox so i need another way to acces it..

  42. Fyorl

    @mike: Well the idea of Quizmarklet is that it's a bookmarklet (see any similarities in the names?). If you want extra items added to Firefox's right-click menu then you're asking Andrew to write a whole Firefox extension just to accomplish that.

    Although, a Quizlet extension would be rather cool, think of the possibilities...

  43. 1pookie2

    wow that sounds really cool and i havn't used it but it sounds cool and i would use it if i knew it was free!

  44. 1pookie2


  45. 1pookie2

    now i found out how to use it wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! How cool is that?!i love this thing!!!:~)

  46. :-)

    I really don't understand how this whole thing works....

  47. Elizabeth

    zomg, thats frikin awesome

  48. xyz


  49. Xaturukumutuxat

    Hey andrew do you ever check youre PM's on jalenack account? Iv invited u 2 like 3 different groups 7 times man! at least send a return message!!!!

  50. Mike

    Hi Andrew!
    I think the Quizmarklet is great and hope you get you bugs worked out. I would love to ffer some insightful advice but I know nil about computers. lol
    I'm trying to learn though, gl! :)

  51. mifficype

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting!

  52. TheReallyBest

    X Rumer is the BEST!


  53. Can anyone help?


    I am having a problem using Quizmarklet. I am using firefox 3.6.10, latest version Chrome, but none of these browsers can let me select the definition i want to add into my set. And i can't use Quizmarklet to add vocabularies.


  54. Monica8013

    The page is unavailable now.
    Is there any wrong with it or you just cancel the Quizmarklet?

  55. YvanLin


  56. Hamel_k

    How can I use it now? The page is unavailable. Can anybody tell me why?

  57. Bob_Barcelona

    99th high five

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