Thursday, February 21, 2008

Word Magic

I've always loved to learn new words. I'll be the first to admit I am not a scholar, or the most erudite, and crossword puzzles or scrabble are not my passions, but I've always found myself enthralled by vocabulary and the meanings and usage of words.

I think it began in elementary school where I had a language arts teacher who told us to always reach higher and strive to use a more descriptive word. She would tell us "Don't say big, say ASTRONOMICAL!" As a class assignment we had to keep a journal, and write down all the new words we heard and read each day, with their definition, and sometimes the teacher would make us write a composition using ten words from our journal. It created a habit for me to keep a dictionary nearby when ever I read, and I believe I passed on this trait to my children, much to my delight.

Here are some of my favorite linguaphile web sites and newsletters that I've discovered over the years:

Wordsmith is a worldwide online community of some half-million people who share a love for words, wordplay, language, and literature. was founded in 1994 by Anu Garg, while studying as a graduate student in computer science. I have subscribed to, and enjoyed, Mr. Garg's free A Word A Day newsletter for years. He usually has a theme for the week, sends a word a day with it's definition, part of speech, an example of its use in a sentence, with a link to hear its pronunciation, and as an added bonus he adds a daily quotation.

AlphaDictionary Enter a word on this web page's search box and it searches 992 online English dictionaries at once! There a quite a few fun features on their web site to explore. I have subscribed to the daily free "What's The Good Word ?" newsletter for years and here, too, a daily word is sent with its definition, parts of speech, pronunciation, "in play" where it is shown how it is used, and "word history" where its etymology is shown. Has root word lesson plans, thematic puzzles, word lists, and test prep/assessment. They have a monthly newsletter which I have recently signed up for. This is a fascinating web site to explore, and has a wealth of information for teachers to use as a resource.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary and thesaurus, word games, “Word of the Day” and the “Word for the Wise” podcasts

The Visual Thesaurus The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that visually blossoms with meanings and branches to related words.

LawGuru A searchable dictionary of over 6,500 commonly used legal terms

Acronymfinder A searchable database to find out what any acronym, abbreviation, or initialism stands for.

Ask Oxford Among all the information about English usage and writing resources there is a section called "World of Words" with information about new words and their usage.

Abbreviations Since many abbreviations and acronyms are learned on a need-to-know basis, visit this site for thousands of entries, including Internet emoticons.

Fun With Words Just that! Anagrams, oxymorons, spoonerisms, malapropisms, and word games to play online. Some annoying pop up ads, but I guess that is how they pay for their bandwidth.

Online Spell Check Not a vocabulary web site, but very helpful to me since the spell check function on blogger hasn't been working lately. I might love words, but I never did well in spelling bees! :-)

Even though I've enjoyed words my whole life, as I am getting older I often find that a word I need at a specific time flies right out of my consciousness, only to pop back in hours later when it's no longer needed! It can be very frustrating. Hmmmmm...... I think I just might have to start exercising my brain by doing those crossword puzzles I've been avoiding for so long.

Anyone know an eleven letter word for "writer's cramp"?


Tara said...


Having a high schooler, these are good sites to know--thanks! Enjoy the weekend and the snow!

Mermaid Queen said...

Hi Pat,
I had an amazing english teacher who gave me a great love for words and reading myself. I'm going to take a look at some of the great links you posted. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I answered your question on it. Take care Pat! ~Martha

Junie Moon said...

My goodness, I feel like you're my twin. Words are wonderful and discovering new ones is ever so fun.

I "lose" my words now and then, too. So glad to know I'm not alone in this.

Here's your word for writer's cramp: mogigraphia.

Have a wonderful weekend full of new discoveries!

aliqot said...

Hello Pat,

Just dropped in again and found your blog on words - some fab sites to follow up. Then I saw your post on New Orleans - it sounds fascinating, and I love your photos. said...

thanks for the links, I can see myself making use of at least a couple of them! said...

Those are great, I think I've been lazy about learning new words since leaving college. I think I'll have to go check these out to build up my vocabulary.