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Ayoub Ali
Ayoub Ali

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How to build a Cambridge Dictionary API in GO

Cambridge Dictionary API

Let's Build a fully functional Cambridge Dictionary API by crawling it's data based on word search
We will use colly to crawl the result data and Regex to format our result and encode and Encode the data using JSON Marshalling.

Create a folder a dictionary-api in your computer and create a main.go file and run go mod init dictionary-api and then go mod tidy when ever you add a new dependencies run go mod tidy in terminal

Step - 1 Installing Dependencies

We will install Colly a Excellent Web Scraping framework Written in GO

go get
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Writing Our Scraping logic

  1. Initialization:

    • The code starts by initializing two important variables: c (Collector) and parsingResult.
    • c is an instance of a web scraping tool called Colly, which is used to navigate and extract data from web pages.
    • parsingResult is a structure that will hold the results of the web scraping.
  2. Initialization Function (init):

    • In the init function, the Colly collector c is set up.
    • It is configured to only visit web pages from the domain "".
    • AllowURLRevisit is set to true, which means the collector can revisit the same URL if needed.
    • The settingSearch function is called, which sets up the rules for data extraction.
  3. Setting Up Rules for Data Extraction (settingSearch Function):

    • This function defines the rules for extracting specific data from the Cambridge Dictionary web pages.
    • It uses Colly's OnHTML method to specify what to do when certain HTML elements are found on the page.
    • For example, when an HTML element with the class "pos-header" is found, it extracts the pronunciation (KK) and part of speech (POS).
    • When an HTML element with the class "def-block" is found, it extracts the meanings and example sentences.
  4. Search Function (Search Function):

    • The Search function is used to perform a word search on the Cambridge Dictionary website.
    • It takes a wordToSearch parameter, which is the word you want to look up.
    • It resets parsingResult to empty before starting a new search.
    • It uses Colly to visit the Cambridge Dictionary page for the specified word.
    • After scraping the page, it returns the parsingResult, which now contains the word's pronunciation, part of speech, meanings, and example sentences.
package main

import (

var (
    c             *colly.Collector
    parsingResult wordMeaning

func init() {
    c = colly.NewCollector(
    c.AllowURLRevisit = true

func settingSearch() {
    c.OnHTML(".pos-header.dpos-h", func(e *colly.HTMLElement) {
        // KK
        e.ForEach(".us.dpron-i .pron.dpron", func(i int, m *colly.HTMLElement) {
            parsingResult.KK = m.Text
        // part of speech
        e.ForEach(".posgram.dpos-g.hdib.lmr-5", func(i int, m *colly.HTMLElement) {
            parsingResult.POS = m.Text
    // On every a element which has href attribute call callback
    c.OnHTML(".def-block.ddef_block", func(e *colly.HTMLElement) {
        var newMeaningAndSentence meaningAndSentence
        // meaning
        e.ForEach(".def.ddef_d.db", func(i int, m *colly.HTMLElement) {
            newMeaningAndSentence.Meaning = formatCrawlerResult(m.Text)
        // sentence
        e.ForEach(".def-body.ddef_b .examp.dexamp", func(i int, m *colly.HTMLElement) {
            newMeaningAndSentence.Sentence = append(newMeaningAndSentence.Sentence, formatCrawlerResult(m.Text))
        parsingResult.ResultList = append(parsingResult.ResultList, newMeaningAndSentence)

func Search(wordToSearch string) wordMeaning {
    parsingResult = wordMeaning{}
    parsingResult.WordToSearch = wordToSearch
    err := c.Visit("" + wordToSearch)
    if err != nil {
    return parsingResult

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Step - 2 Formatting our Scraping result Using Regex

This data structures and functions are used to organize and format information about words and their meanings. They help make the data more human-readable and suitable for presentation, such as in a user interface or chatbot response.

  1. Data Structures:
    • meaningAndSentence: This structure represents a word's meaning and related example sentences. It contains two fields:
      • Meaning: A string that stores the meaning of the word.
      • Sentence: A list of strings that stores example sentences related to the word's meaning.
  • wordMeaning: This structure represents information about a word, including its pronunciation, part of speech, and a list of meanings and sentences. It contains the following fields:
    • WordToSearch: A string storing the word being searched.
    • KK: A string storing the word's pronunciation.
    • POS: A string storing the word's part of speech.
    • ResultList: A list of meaningAndSentence structures, representing different meanings and sentences associated with the word.
  1. formatCrawlerResult Function:

    • This function takes a string (result) as input and processes it to remove unnecessary spaces and characters.
    • It uses regular expressions to remove extra spaces, colons, and other unwanted characters from the input string.
    • The processed string is then returned.
  2. PreprocessingJSONToString Function:

    • This function takes a wordMeaning structure (preOutput) as input and prepares a formatted string for display.
    • It constructs a string by combining various pieces of information, including the word, its part of speech, pronunciation, meanings, and example sentences.
    • It limits the number of meanings displayed to a maximum of 5 (as specified by maxMeaningLine).
    • The formatted string is returned, which can be used for displaying word information in a more readable format.
package main

import (

var maxMeaningLine int = 5

type meaningAndSentence struct {
    Meaning  string   `json:"meaning"`
    Sentence []string `json:"sentence"`

type wordMeaning struct {
    WordToSearch string               `json:"word"`
    KK           string               `json:"kk"`
    POS          string               `json:"pos"`
    ResultList   []meaningAndSentence `json:"result"`

func formatCrawlerResult(result string) string {
    space := regexp.MustCompile(`\s+`)
    removeSpace := space.ReplaceAllString(result, " ")
    // remove case of [ C ] or [ T ]
    corT := regexp.MustCompile(`\[\s+.\s+\]|:`)
    removeCorT := corT.ReplaceAllString(removeSpace, "")
    // remove leading space
    noSpaceDuplicate := strings.TrimSpace(removeCorT)
    // replace the needed escape character
    // escape := regexp.MustCompile(`\.|\'|\*|\[|\]|\(|\)|\~|\>|\#|\+|\-|\=|\||\{|\}|\.|\!`)
    // removeEscape := escape.ReplaceAllString(noSpaceDuplicate, `\$0`)

    s := noSpaceDuplicate
    return s

func PreprocessingJSONToString(preOutput wordMeaning) string {
    output := ""
    // title
    output += fmt.Sprintf(`*%s*  (_%s_)`, preOutput.WordToSearch, preOutput.POS) + "\n"
    output += preOutput.KK + "\n"

    for i, result := range preOutput.ResultList {
        if i+1 > maxMeaningLine {
        output += fmt.Sprintf("%d", i+1) + ". *" + result.Meaning + "*\n"
        if len(result.Sentence) > 0 {
            output += `\* _` + result.Sentence[0] + "_\n"

    return output
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Step - 3 Writing a HTTP Handler with EndPoints

The SearchQueryHandler function handles HTTP requests that include a word to search for in the URL path (e.g., "/search/word"). It extracts the word, retrieves its meaning, and sends a JSON response with the meaning information. If there are errors during this process, it may panic and terminate the program.

func SearchQueryHandler() {
    http.HandleFunc("/search/", func(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
        wordToSearch := strings.TrimPrefix(r.URL.Path, "/search/")
        outputJSON := getMeaning(wordToSearch)
        w.Header().Set("Content-Type", "application/json")
        encodeError := json.NewEncoder(w).Encode(outputJSON)
        if encodeError != nil {
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Listen and Serve

func main() {
    // Start the HTTP server
    // listen and serve on (for windows "localhost:8080")
    if err := http.ListenAndServe(":8080", nil); err != nil {

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// it will find all the global functions and run it. It is because it did not step up go env GOPATH
// So for you - you can try  go run main.go
go run .
// OR
go run main.go
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