Sunday, February 12, 2012

looking it up

Does anyone use an actual dictionary anymore? I opened one up about a week ago, only because I didn't have access to the internet at that moment.

If you want to look up a word these days, you can simply open up Google (or you favorite web browser) and type define: followed by the word you want to look up. With Google, you'll get something like this:

Couldn't be easier.

I can't imagine not having a nice dictionary in the home. That would seem like... almost a sin. But, do we really need them anymore? I don't know.

While there's something comforting to me about having a nice dictionary sitting on my bookshelf, these days that's about all it's doing -- sitting there.

There are tons of online dictionaries out there. Some popular ones:

- Mirriam-Webster
- The Free Dictionary
- Cambridge Dictionaries Online
- Oxford Dictionaries

Wictionary looks like an interesting one. From Wikipedia:

Wiktionary (from the words wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in 158 languages. Unlike standard dictionaries, it is written collaboratively by volunteers, dubbed "Wiktionarians", using wiki software, allowing articles to be changed by almost anyone with access to the website.

Like its sister project Wikipedia, Wiktionary is run by the Wikimedia Foundation. Because Wiktionary is not limited by print space considerations, most of Wiktionary's language editions provide definitions and translations of words from many languages, and some editions offer additional information typically found in thesauri and lexicons. Additionally, the English Wiktionary includes Wikisaurus, a category that serves as a thesaurus, including lists of slang words, and the Simple English Wiktionary, compiled using the Basic English subset of the English language.

The goal of Wiktionary is to eventually define "all words in all languages."

Some other interesting web sites and pages:

- A list of common abbreviations at
- The Urban Dictionary
- Logos

Cool stuff. Everything's there at our fingertips these days -- all anyone needs is an internet connection. Makes me wonder how all of this is affecting print dictionaries. Found this Telegraph article: Oxford English Dictionary 'will not be printed again':

The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the language, will never be printed because of the impact of the internet on book sales.

Sales of the third edition of the vast tome have fallen due to the increasing popularity of online alternatives, according to its publisher...

OUP [Oxford University Press] said it would continue to print the more familiar Oxford Dictionary of English, the single-volume version sold in bookshops...

Oh, well. Welcome to the Internet Age.

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