Online Dictionaries

Normally, I would have a digital dictionary installed on my computer, but when my work computer was upgraded a few months ago, I didn’t reinstall the program on the new system.

For about two weeks, my office is packed up and I’m working in a temporary location while the floors and cubicles are being replaced. The lack of a printed dictionary and my favorite style guides drove me to search for a good online dictionary. I hadn’t realized just how much I use a dictionary until I didn’t have one readily available.

My first (disappointing) discovery was the Merriam-Webster dictionary. After using it for a just over a week, I grew to dislike the slowness of the search and I was disappointed by the brevity of the definitions. I wanted more information about word origins, roots, and a more accurate (and complete) definition.

Of course, I can’t afford a subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary (the only dictionary worth owning), so I continued searching for something better than Merriam-Webster.

In true word-geek fashion, I was squealing (internally) with delight when I found the Cambridge Online Dictionary. This dictionary has less clutter on the screen and a much quicker search time. I wish the definitions were a little more complete, but I’m satisfied with the online dictionary so far.

The Cambridge Online Dictionary also includes an iGoogle widget, a toolbar dictionary for most browsers, an About Words blog about how the English language behaves, and a New Words list that is updated weekly.

Of course, there’s nothing like the OED. I have submitted a question to my county library system asking if they have a subscription to the OED. Apparently, if the library has a subscription and I have a library card, I should be able to access the OED. Otherwise, I’m hoping my husband’s university has a subscription and I’ll be able to access the online OED using his credentials.

That would REALLY have me squealing (audibly) with excitement.