ASSOCIATES (vol. 6, no. 2, November 1999) - associates.ucr.edu
Michael D. Brooks
Francis A. Drexel Library
St. Joseph’s University
You are sitting at your desk or workstation and you need to look up a word quickly. Unfortunately, you don't have a dictionary or thesaurus handy. Or the one you do have handy is inadequate for the task at hand. You will have to get up and find one. If only there were some way to put a dictionary on your computer without buying some expensive program that will not eat up precious disk space or computer memory. Well, there is.
With just a click of your mouse button, you can look up scores of words and their definitions almost instantly. Just point your Web browser to Dictionary.com (http://www.dictionary.com).
A search box is provided so you can type in any word you want to find the definition for. Simply type in the word and click the OK box. The total number of entries found, or hits, will appear followed by their accompanying definitions.
No more leafing through a dictionary to find a word only to discover the word does not exist in that dictionary or the definition is so convoluted that you need to get another dictionary.
Typing in a word like "boxer" results in the retrieval of a stated number of entries. A definition and a link citing the source accompany each entry. Within some of the definitions are links to synonyms and other related words. A click on one of these links produces another search with a list of found entries.
Many of the site's resources are quite useful to the average student working on a paper or to the most adroit person working the reference desk.
Interested in increasing your vocabulary? Click on over to the Word of the Day page. What you will get is your basic dictionary definition with the occasional link to a source within the definition.
Want to see what a word, phrase, or even a URL looks like in a foreign language? The Translations page will show you. It is a nice feature to have when you need something translated. Out of curiosity, I typed in the URL of my homepage and asked to see what it looked like in Spanish. Cool!
There is even a Fun & Games area for those interested in testing their skills at solving crossword and word search puzzles. The one drawback with Fun & Games is the advertising. Banner ads appear throughout the site, but become most noticeable on the same page as the puzzles. So, unless your browser can be configured to fit the entire puzzle on the computer screen, you will have to scroll up and down to solve the puzzles. But this is a minor inconvenience. After all, it is the advertising that is making this site possible. Besides, you might just see something that will catch your attention.
The Help section is useful if you have topic-related questions. The Writing Resources page is ideal for anyone with a paper to write. Helpful style guides and writer's guides are readily available at the click of a button.
But what if you do not need a dictionary but a thesaurus instead? Then Thesaurus.com (http://www.thesaurus.com) is what you need. And the neat thing about the thesaurus is it is accessible at the same site. Simply open the pull-down menu in the search box and select Thesaurus. Type in your word and click the OK button. The resulting search lets you know how
many entries were found and lists accompanying synonyms. But the thesaurus has one difference. The words it finds are also links.
The thesaurus will also find words even when the spelling is contained within a word. For example, a search for the word "cow" includes the word "cower."
The site even provides search access to Web sites related to the word you look up. And Dictionary.com welcomes links to its site and actually provides HTML codes for placing Dictionary.com search boxes on Web pages (following its guidelines, of course).