For my Words posts, I have to find the definitions of the new-to-me words. This is easier for some words than for others.
The first place I look is my falling apart Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition.
I got it when I went off to college, and it has served me well, for the most part. Except that now the back cover is hanging by threads and part of the cover over the spine is ripped off. (I guess that’s what moving — 17 times?! — and heavy use will do to a book.)
But sometimes, Trusty Red lacks the word I’m looking up.
What then? Where do I look when the dictionary doesn’t have the word I’m looking up? Some resources are better for certain kinds of words.
Resources I use at least sometimes:
• Google (a good first place to check for many things)
• dictionary.com I kind of hate this ad-heavy site, but it’s easy to use.
• Merriam-Webster dictionary The last time I went to look up a word here, though, it did have the word, but it wanted me to sign up for an account. Free trial though it may be, I didn’t want to register to look up a word.
Resources I’ve definitely found helpful:
• Wikipedia Love it or hate it, sometimes it’s the only place I’ve been able to find what I’m looking for. Often I can find enough corroborating evidence at random places to ensure that I’ve found trustworthy information on Wikipedia. Wikipedia has been especially helpful when I’m looking up words that aren’t English.
• Wordnik.com I’m starting to love Wordnik. It gives you definitions, examples, pronunciations, etymologies, usage statistics and more. From the About page: “Our goal is to show you as much information as possible, as fast as we can find it, for every word in English, and to give you a place where you can make your own opinions about words known. Traditional dictionaries make you wait until they’ve found what they consider to be “enough” information about a word before they will show it to you. Wordnik knows you don’t want to wait — if you’re interested in a word, we’re interested too!
I’d love to have an unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, but in the meantime, I’m making do with the above. What about you?