What about online dictionaries? They’re free, there’s a lot of them, and the growing availability of wireless Internet connections makes them more and more accessible. Might they be a viable option? Let’s see: Publishers make money on books and CDs, so their online dictionaries are always limited in some way. Typical limitations are: lack of recorded pronunciations (Longman, Oxford, Cambridge), missing phonetic transcriptions (Longman), smaller number of example sentences (Longman). A Web dictionary is slower to use than a dictionary that’s installed on your computer. It’s not just about the page loading time and server problems; often, the interface requires more looking around and clicking. When you look up dozens of words every day (and you should), it can really hurt your motivation if your dictionary slows you down.
Print dictionary benefits: They’ll experience a snowball effect of learning. When kids leaf through the pages of a dictionary to find a specific word, they also see plenty of other new and interesting words they might not know. This adds momentum to their learning, which is especially helpful for back-to-school season! You never know what other word will catch their eye, and which ones will inspire an even deeper exploration of meaning and understanding. (Here are more strategies that boost reading skills.)
This works nicely, although it is a little cumbersome, if you have an idea of the meaning of the word you want. If you have a word and you want to know what it means, you must puzzle through the initial list to try and guess what entry you want. Sometimes, if the word you are researching is used in a description of another word, when you click on the link, you find yourself at a page for an entirely different word definition. Yahoo! offers an online dictionary based on the American Heritage Dictionary, and its interface is a little more straightforward. Looking for the meaning of a term like rope bunny?
The Free Dictionary offers you the ability to search via words, characters or text. It gives you multiple definitions, a thesaurus, intransitive verbs and voice pronunciations, along with a translator that works with common language like French, German and Greek. It’s not particularly fancy, but you may not be looking for fancy. Overall, The Free Dictionary is among the best online dictionaries. Not sure what some of the multitude of acronyms you see online stand for? NetLingo is one of the best online dictionaries that will explain what LOL, FWIW, and more obscure internet lingo mean, if you’re not familiar. I’m in my mid-twenties, and this is still an invaluable resource for me, with all the new terms that pop up every day. What panromantic demisexual means? Define Dictionary Meaning can answer that question.
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