Save the Words
A clever promotion by the Oxford Dictionaries people, the Save the Words website (http://www.savethewords.org) alerts you to old, unused words, and lets you adopt them and encourages you to use them in everyday speech so they don’t disappear. In their own words:
You can also click on the little word boxes in the background to get a definition for that word.
Wordnik (http://www.wordnik.com/) is not a traditional dictionary:
Traditional dictionaries make you wait until they’ve found what they consider to be “enough” information about a word before they will show it to you. Wordnik knows you don’t want to wait—if you’re interested in a word, we’re interested too!
Our goal is to show you as much information as possible, just as fast as we can find it, for every word in English, and to give you a place where you can make your own opinions about words known.
By “information,” we don’t just mean traditional definitions (although we have plenty of those)…
I did a search on Wordnik for ‘berm’, a term I’d come across while editing documents for the oil and gas industry. I got definitions from several dictionaries, a history of the word used in context, statistics of its usage, and some Flickr photos of a ‘berm’:
(Thanks to Fran D for alerting me to Save The Words, and to Stuart B for alerting me to Wordnik)
Update: And for a THIRD approach to words, check out Wolfram|Alpha’s word search capabilities: http://blog.wolframalpha.com/2009/07/29/wolframalphas-got-the-write-stuff/
[Links last checked July 2009]