By: Charles Bowen

Yourdictionary.Com Is First and Last Word In Reference

To get started, visit the site at

Dictionaries have evolved in an amazing way in cyberspace. Before
the decade of the World Wide Web, few of us Internet watchers
would have put dictionaries on any list of cool foolproof tools.
Hadn’t dictionary technology pretty much been nailed down, say,
150 years ago? How could the Web improve on Webster? In lots of
ways, as it turns out.

Imagine a dictionary that not only provides definitions,
pronunciation and etymology, but also integrates:

o A thesaurus to give you fast lists of similar words with each
definition you look up.
o Dozens of specialized glossaries and indexes for everything
from ballet terms to nautical expressions to the languages of
law, medicine and science, music and the arts, technology, and
o Literally hundreds of dictionaries for other languages, such as
French, Spanish, and German, of course, but also Hindi, Thai, and
o Fast translation services and features to help you identify the
source language of any phrase or word you want to enter.
o Guide books for rules of grammar in English and other
o A collection of other language tools for finding rhymes,
acronyms, synonyms, antonyms, and homophones. is a site that is making a powerful bid to
anchor the writer and editor’s reference shelf in the new
millennium. It is a central Web portal for hundreds of word-
related services all around the Internet, from reference books to
databases to games. There even is a section devoted to words in
the news.

Currently, the portal offers links to more than 1,500
dictionaries in more than 200 languages.
evolved from the Web of Online Dictionaries launched by Robert
Beard of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., and covered in
this column in April 1998. Beard is now “chief linguistics
officer” of the new site.

To use, visit the site
( where the introductory screen is
topped with a “Quick Look-up” area with search boxes to enter a
word directly in either the online Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate
Dictionary or Thesaurus. You may search for any form of a term,
such as its plural or past tense form, or variant spellings.

Also, the dictionary has biographical and geographical names
(there are entries for “Washington” as the man, the city, and the
state), as well as common foreign words used in English, and many
abbreviations. If you aren’t sure how to spell a word, you can
use commonly accepted wildcards, including the question mark (?)
for a single character and an asterisk (*) for an undetermined
number of characters. Both the dictionary and thesaurus return
the first main entry that is an exact match for the word you
entered in the look-up window.

Other main entries containing the word you typed are returned in
a scrollable list box on the top right of the results page. You
can access the definition of any word in this list by
highlighting it and clicking on the “Go To” button.

For other features, scroll the introductory page to find
hyperlinks on both the left and right sides of the screen. Among
them are links to language dictionaries, specialty dictionaries,
translators, language identifiers, grammar guides, and other
language tools.

Other considerations in using for your writing
and editing:

o Click the “Word of the Day” link for words in the news.
o Following the recent presidential election, the history of the
word “chad” was covered well.
o The “ELR” link reaches one of the site’s pet projects, the
Endangered Language Repository, which might provide story fodder
for features editors and columnists. It tells the tale of 7,000
languages and dialects spoken on the planet and how more than
half are headed for extinction. The ELR is envisioned as a
sanctuary for these dying languages – a resource for
scholars and others.
o If you find useful enough for your daily
work, you might want to click the introductory page’s “Free YD
o Lookup Button” link. This is a downloadable plug-in that will add
a “” button to your Web browser.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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