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Why I like the Vocabulary.com Dictionary

dictionaryI don’t remember my first dictionary. Maybe it was the great big one that stood on a stand in a corner of the living room.

I suppose I had a dictionary geared for first graders when I began to really read.

My mom and dad read lots and I know I was encouraged to look up words I didn’t recognize. In fact, I remember what a pain it seemed to be back then. Until I began to understand the new word that is. Then I was delighted.

Like many I learned to appreciate many of the words that came before and after the one I sought. And I wasn’t beyond occasionally opening up a dictionary at random to see what I’d find.

I’ve packed around a red Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and a Roget’s Thesaurus since college days. They still sit on a shelf, unused but kept in case the electricity goes off I suppose. I treasured a copy of the two volume Abridged Oxford Dictionary, cuddled in an official book box with a drawer for the magnifying glass because the type was so small. I’m sorry it’s gone and I don’t remember how I came not to have it.

I rejected the first electronic dictionaries

Although I was quite taken with computers that would check my spelling, the first electronic dictionaries left me cold. The programs were real kludges and took forever to load. Often the word I was looking for was missing totally. The stand-alone electronic dictionaries didn’t impress me either. I kept using my hard bound dictionary until the web showed up.


Dictionary.com was launched in 1995 and I suspect I’ve been using it and it’s companion thesaurus almost that long. It’s so handy. And it tells you how to cite it.

Of course I can also look up words in a snap by typing them into google. I’ve also had fun with the Urban Dictionary.

Vocabulary.com Dictionary

I stumbled into Vocabulary.com Dictionary when doing a google word search. I liked it’s looks. It’s got a clean interface. A search on a word brings up a list of not only the word I typed, but some possible variants –  often a big help and can spark some new thinking.

I love their Mission Statement:

Words define us.

We believe that language has the power to open doors and close gaps. 
Our mission: expand access to education and understanding through vocabulary instruction. For us, it’s not just about the words, it’s about improving literacy.

I believe most of that too.

They call themselves the dictionary with soul. That may be taking it a bit far, but not by much. Poke around and you’ll find all sorts of things from games to test prep and the morphology and roots of words. A slightly different dictionary for true word lovers is my take.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Write well and often,

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Vocabulary.com dictionary and highly appreciate that. Thanks

  • Useful and great working dictionary. I use it also. Thank you.

  • Lee

    You can also add vocabulary.com to your search engines if you’re using Firefox (I don’t know about Chrome). When you are on the home page, click in the browser’s search box and you will see “Add vocabulary.com” in the drop-down list of available search engines. Click on it and it adds it to the other search engines.

  • I signed up with Vocabulary.com’s dictionary and highly appreciate that it gives synonyms with *their* meanings right off the bat; the online dictionary I have been using included links to other words’ meanings but this up-front treatment is vastly more useful.

    Thanks so much for the tip!

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