Voice-based writing help with the RhymeZone app for Alexa

If you own an Amazon Echo or another Alexa device such as a Fire TV, try out the new Alexa skill for RhymeZone!

This skill lets you find words from the comfort of your couch by shouting out a command.  You can say things like "Find words related to dog" or "Give me a 6-letter word for penguin" or "Find rhymes for cheese" or "Find adjectives for strawberry" and get back a rapid-fire list of matches.

This is useful when you're in the midst of writing and you don't want to interrupt your typing or handwriting flow to look for alternate words in your favorite Web-based or tree-based reference tool.  Out of the box Alexa already lets you ask for word definitions, but the RhymeZone skill gives you several more options: You can ask for "rhymes", "related words", "synonyms", and "adjectives".

These options are mostly self-explanatory, except for "adjectives". "Adjectives" uses the new "descriptive words" feature on RhymeZone to give you words that commonly modify a given noun.  The "strawberry" example above will give you choices like "wild", "luscious", "juicy", "fragrant", and dozens more.

You can qualify any query with a starting letter.  For example, saying "Find words related to dog that start with 'P'" will give you such words as "pug", "poodle", "paw", "pet", "pound", and "Pavlov". You also can add a restriction on the length of the word, as in the 6-letter penguin example above, which returns "gentoo", "adelie", and a few others.  These two features might be useful for getting help with crossword puzzle clues — use them at your own risk, since you're only cheating yourself!

For all of the supported query types, the answers that come back are ordered by how popular they are.  Since some queries produce a lot of answers, Alexa will recite them 10 at a time and give you the option of flipping through the results by saying "continue" after each set of 10.

To install the RhymeZone skill on your Alexa device, enable it from this this page.  (If that doesn't work, see more detailed instructions from Amazon here.)   Enjoy!

Thanks to Norbert Burger for suggesting the skill, and for guidance on publishing Alexa skills.

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