Over at Threadwatch, Graywolf started a thread titled Are you Optimizing for Google Definitions? There are some insightful comments in the thread, and I recalled a Google patent application that covered the topic.
I looked around the web to see if there had been any discussion about the patent application, but couldn’t find any. The document is System and method for providing definitions, (US Patent Application 20040236739) invented by Craig Nevill-Manning, filed on June 27, 2003 and published on November 25, 2004.
The abstract for the application is pretty general, but the document is fairly detailed. Here’s the abstract:
A system and method for providing definitions is described. A phrase to be defined is received. One or more documents, which each contain at least one definition, are determined. The phrase is matched to at least one of the definitions. One or more definitions for the phrase are presented.