Review: MERRIAM WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY ONLINE

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary online is a language resource available in the webpage: http://www.merriam-webster.com/. This version online is based on the latest edition of Merriam- Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.The producer company of the dictionaries, Merriam Webster Inc is a subsidiary company of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

This dictionary is a very complete language resource. Every lexical item includes the first time the word was used, the historial and etymological origins, orthographical notes, function of the the words and regional varieties.

Merriam Webster’s has 225,000 entries, 115,000 audio pronunciations, 340,000 synonyms and related words and 1,300 illustrations.

What can we find in the dictionary?

There are four different types of dictionaries: the monolingual dictionary, a Thesaurus dictionary, a bilingual dictionary Spanish- English and a Medical Dictionary.

It includes 4 additional sections: word games, word of the day, new words and slang and videos.

a) DICTIONARY: Using the dictionary

In order to look for a word, we have to type the word, we are looking for in the search box. Let’s use the word “light”. The dictionary presents several entries according to different categories such as “noun”, “verb”, “adjectives”, “adverb” etc. In this example there are 219 entries.

The dictionary includes a pronunciation device where the word (in this case “light”) is written in phonetical and phonological symbols and if you click on the audio device, the word can be listened to get a better pronunciation.

Then the dictionary collects different definitions of the word “light”. What is more, it adds words which are synonyms or which are part of the semantic field of “light”. The dictionary also includes different contexts and examples in which, for instance, the word “light” can appear and compounds. It also includes a set of idiomatic expressions and collocations which also define the words.Lastly, there is a list of examples of the words, the origin of the word and its historical review, different synonyms and antonyms and even “rhymes” with a certain word.

b) THESAURUS

The Merriam Webster’s dictionary offers a Thesaurus dictionary, that is to say, a list of words which have share a similarity in their meanings.To look for a word is as simple as typing the word we want to look for in the search box. Take for example, the word: “plant”.After the word (plant), the dictionary shows the different entries it has found. In this example: “plant” as a noun, and “plant”as a verb.

Once we have looked for the word (plant), the first option that appears is the word “plant”with the category of noun. The dictionary offers a definition of the word “a building or a set of buildings for the manufaturing of goods”. Then there are several synonyms and finally related words. A second category is the word “plant” as a verb.

c) SPANISH- ENGLISH DICTIONARY

Again, we have to type the word we are looking for in the search box. In this case, we will choose the word “table”. Then we will press “ENTER” to start the search. Once, the search has finished, the word “table” presents four entries.

The dictionary shows the translation of the word “table”, that is to say “mesa” in Spanish. Then the word is used in a particular context and several examples are used to do it, like “multiplication table”(tabla de multiplicar) or “table of contents”(tabla de materias).

d)MEDICAL

Merriam Webster’s dictionary is a linguistic resource also for medical purposes. It contains thousands of words related to the world of medicine.The way of looking for a word is the same than with the other three dictionaries. We have to type the word in the search box and press “enter”. Let’s look for the word “surgery”.

FOUR OPTIONS MERRIAM WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY

a) WORD GAMES

The Merriam Webster dictionary contributes to the enrichment of the learner’s vocabulary by offering different word games. All of them are thought to be an alternative and dynamic tool which can be used as an entertainment but also as a learning instrument. Basically, the main aims of these games are the improvement of spelling and pronunciation like in the case of the game Bee cubed. Moreover, the word order is one of the main objectives in these games , like L.A. Times Daily Crossword.

b) WORD OF THE DAY

Everyday a new word is added to the dictionary. It helps to the introduction of new lexical items to the English language. The dictionary shows the pronunciation of the word (using the phonetic and phonological symbols). For instance, on the 23, February 2011 the word of the day was “edacious”.
Firstly, these “words of the day” are categorised as “nouns, adjectives, “adverbs” etc… Then, they are defined in a similar way that the “Thesaurus dictionary” uses. Similar meanings and synonyms are selected to define the word.

Secondly, these new words are exemplified with several sentences and it is common the use of a quotation from a literary source to explain whether or not the word can be used in different backgrounds. In addition, this section adds a section called : Did you know? which presents the historical origin of the new word and generally the etymology. Moreover, it describes the distinct meanings which have been atributed to the word through different ages in history.To finish the section, the dictionary offers a family quiz which deals with the word described everyday.

c) NEW WORDS AND SLANG

This section is a group of new words which have been included in the dictionary thanks to the collaboration of the users. The dictionary allows the introduction of new words which are part of “everyday’s life” and also the “most colloquial English”.

d) VIDEOS

This is an alternative and modern tool in which several editors explain the meaning or origin of a word.

IN CONCLUSION

Merriam Webster’s dictionary offers a wide variety of options according to several needs. It is one of the most complete dictionaries because it includes: definitions, synonyms and antonyms, origin and etymology of the words, spelling and pronunciation devices, phonological and phonetic transcriptions and content of use of the words.In the online version, there are four different dictionaries which help several specific needs.

I have done an Slideshare presentation which makes a more deep review about the dictionary. If you click in the link below you could see it:

Information sources

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One thought on “Review: MERRIAM WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY ONLINE

  1. Needham June 27, 2012 / 3:25 pm

    In the 10th edition of Websters Coll. Dictionary you say the word ” posh” is uknown. Here is the explanation……when people took sailing ships to India and the Far East around 1890 to 1910 They used to book a “posh” passage. Port out and Starboard home kept them on the shady side of the ship, it was cooler and more comfortable, and therefore more expensive. So P.O.S.H. came into the English language.

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