He was somewhat nonplussed when I told him that the CD-ROM bundled with the third edition of LPD provides precisely that facility. It’s called Sound Search, and you see the button for it when you fire up the on-screen LPD.
Press the Sound Search button, and up pops this dialogue box. Use the phonetic symbol buttons to enter your search term. Then, if what you have entered corresponds to the pronunciation of an English word, a Find button will appear. Press that, and you’ll get the orthographic version in a Results box.
(It’s a pity about the misspelling DIPHTONGS, and the misaligned diacritics at t̬ and æ̃, but no one’s perfect.)
I think this search facility works pretty well.
It can cope with optional sounds. So any of tʃɑːns, tʃɑːnts, tʃæns, tʃænts will find chance.
There’s an asterisk to give you a wild card. Input tʃɑːn* and you get offered a list of 18 possibilities.
It copes with both RP and GenAm. Input ʃɑːk and you get not only BrE shark but also AmE shock.
It delivers homophones efficiently. Input saɪt and you get cite, -cyte, sight, and site.
Shortcomings? As I say, no one’s perfect. The handling of run-on entries leaves a lot to be desired. Although siː correctly returns C, se, sea, see, si, entering siːz gives you only seise and seize — it fails to identify seas, sees and C’s, Cs, c’s.
If you enter saɪ, you get not only the correct Cy, psi, sigh, xi but also a rogue siamang — because alongside a main pronunciation ˈsiː‿ ə mæŋ this word also has a second pron ˈsaɪ‿ , i.e. ˈsaɪ‿ ə mæŋ, which the software has misinterpreted as a complete form.