There are many different versions of (Key-Word in Context” (KWIC) dictionaries out there, but for the most part they simply take a search string and lines up the search string in context as found in a given corpus. For example, I searched for “beef” in the Online BLC KWIC Concordance Dictionary and got the following results:
1 remises of our supplying less expensive beef and management know-how in running the 2 At the time, I proposed to supply dried beef continuously, but you made a counter of 3 antage of your supplying less expensive beef is considered, and we most reluctantly 4 cities in Japan; and 2) that you supply beef to the restaurant chain. 5 lp sell chicken and pork in addition to beef. 6 0 tons of Nebraska USDA choice corn-fed beef.
Some KWIC dictionaries are rich in features. For example, you can change the justification of the search string, add more words returned with each found result, etc. Is it useful? That depends on what you need to do. For me, I’ve been studying German and haven’t been able to see certain things in context. For example, I want to understand the difference, in context, between those prepositions that can take the accusitive or dative case depending on what you’re trying to say. I want to see examples, but can’t find any real German KWIC online (that responds faster than 10 minutes). So, I wrote a DIY KWIC.
What it requires: A URL and a search string. The search string you understand. The URL is going to be the corpus. When you click “Go” it will actually go to the URL, parse out the HTML and find links. It will dig several links and get the text from those sites, as well. It will then generate a single corpus of multi-page data will be your corpus that will then be searched through, looking for your search string. Just open up the link to the right called “KWIC” and just click “Go” with what’s there and see what happens. It’s not feature rich, nor is it pretty, but it gets the job done. I’m happy for feedback. Now, when I want to study German, I just throw in a Wikipedia article in German and search for a string.
Disclaimer: This is only to be used for personal purposes. It parses any website given, so you are responsible for the URL you search. You are not able to copy text, so it is read-only. The primary purpose is to help you with language study.