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Online Dictionaries: Much More Than Words and Meanings

October 24th, 2008

electronic-dictionary.jpgThis latest article by Anne Solomon is a discussion of online dictionaries, many of which have recently expanded well beyond the standard word + definition format of most traditional dictionaries. One of my favorites in this category is Answers.com, which seems to be a sort of information aggregator for words that includes Dictionary.com definitions, Wikipedia snippets, thesaurus suggestions, and entries from several other more specialized dictionaries depending on the specific word used for the query.

This particular resource is very handy for WordPress bloggers because it has been linked to our ‘Write Post’ interface through the use of the ‘lookup’ key. All we need to do is highlight any word in the text of a post that we are writing, press ‘lookup’, and the Answers.com page for that word will open up in a new window or tab. This little feature has contributed significantly to the educational experience of my blogging efforts and is definitely much faster than the old-fashioned method of using a paper journal and printed dictionary to write our daily entries.


Online dictionaries offer information and language resources galore as well as fun. They are indispensable tools for kids and students, the home and the workplace. No longer dry and weighty, dictionaries today are educational and entertainment hubs that are well worth visiting.

If you think of dictionaries as books that gather dust, used only on rare occasions for checking a word’s meaning or spelling, re-think now. Online dictionary websites today are information-filled hubs that inject fun and entertainment into what once seemed dry. Covering topics from economics to jokes, online dictionaries take full advantage of the internet’s top feature — interactivity. Collins Living Dictionary even gives you a say on what words should make into the lexicon.

English language dictionaries:

The concise and pocket dictionaries that used to be found in every home were limited to providing brief definitions of words, with pronunciation and perhaps an example of use. Without space constraints, today’s language dictionaries also provide truly informative articles, ideal for scholars and students. Think of them as mini-encyclopedias. It used to be that short of buying all twenty tomes of the complete Oxford English Dictionary, you might need a standard dictionary plus a thesaurus and maybe an etymological dictionary for good measure. Now it’s all a few clicks away.

A mass of information, plus dictionaries of acronyms, idioms, symbols, quotations, and guides to grammar and language use, come together in the online dictionary. If you aspire to poetry, there are even rhyming dictionaries to help your literary progress. To ensure that your kids grow up articulate, special user-friendly and fun-filled children’s dictionaries are also available.

Resources and games:

Web-based dictionaries are dynamic and interactive. If you can’t find what you need you can ask an expert. Online dictionary sites cover almost anything to do with language, including tips for better writing and links to related educational resources. Alternatively you can chill out with spelling games, vocabulary games, crossword puzzle solvers and Scrabble resources. You can even idle away a few minutes with classic games like ‘Hangman’.

Foreign language dictionaries and translation:

The possibilities are not limited to English. Web dictionaries offer the standard option of checking meanings of unfamiliar foreign words, as well as the choice of translating whole documents or web pages into hundreds of languages, from Arabic to Zulu. That’s great for travelers or for businesses with foreign clients. For work and office use, there are dictionaries on a wide range of specialist topics, including computing, finance, economics, and law. Medical dictionaries not only decode doctor’s jargon but provide reams of information on health and diseases.

Language is alive. Online dictionaries reflect that in ways that books, no matter how much we love them, never can.



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