If someone asks the meaning of a word which is easily found in dictionaries, should the question be closed?

2 Answers 2


You can check What topics can I ask about here? for good guidelines on what to ask.

We currently support three site-specific closing reasons:

  • Questions asking for translations are off-topic unless prior research effort is clearly indicated; we're here to help you learn, not provide a bulk translation service.
  • Questions seeking learning resources are off-topic here, but see: What are some good online resources we can use?
  • Questions asking for corrections in a text e.g. "are there any mistakes in this text?" are off-topic. You can ask specific sentences in separate questions that may help other users. For more information, see what you can ask here.

Together with the generic ones:

  • unclear what you're asking Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.
  • too broad There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.
  • primarily opinion-based Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

None of them applies to the case you mention, so technically it is on topic. However, in all cases (and this applies to all Stack Exchange sites) questions are expected to contain some effort on research. Otherwise, we typically close as "homework questions" or "please do some research". As the Tour page describes:

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.


Questions about the meaning of a word are on topic, but it's not that simple.

Questions are expected to show research effort, too. So if you ask:

What does 'gato' mean?

You'll gather a large collection of down votes, for not looking the word up in a dictionary before asking here.

On the other hand, if you look the word up, and it doesn't satisfy your inquiry because it's an unusual, or regional meaning, then this is the perfect time to ask here, and you'll probably get up voted.

Why is a "jack" called a "gato"?

  • Nice! However, to me Why is a “jack” called a “gato”? is not a question about the meaning of a word but about etymology.
    – fedorqui
    Jun 28, 2016 at 8:42
  • Etymology is a subset of the meaning of a word--and one that usually makes for a much better question than simply "What is the meaning of X?"
    – Flimzy
    Jul 2, 2016 at 10:19

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