The Best Online Dictionaries
Whether you need to double-check the meaning of a word you think you know or you’ve run into new vocabulary, an online dictionary can be a quick way of getting the linguistic information you need. But be sure to choose the best dictionaries on the internet for reliable information.
With a pedigree that dates back to Noah Webster, the father of American English, the Merriam-Webster dictionary has adapted well to the online environment. It’s won Webby awards and gained a viral following on Twitter thanks to a prescient ability to capture the moment with relevant definitions. Beyond that, the Merriam-Webster website (merriam-webster.com) also includes a thesaurus and dictionaries covering specific topics, like law and medicine, as well as a children’s dictionary and other important resources.
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary (found at oed.com) is arguably the world’s foremost scholarly authority on the English language. Though focused on British English, the Oxford English Dictionary is an important record of the language’s past and present. Previous print editions of the OED have come in multiple huge volumes, but its recent editions have been published online in full, providing a massive database of English words ranging from the obscure to the everyday.
A straightforward, easy-to-remember address and great design makes Dictionary.com a great resource, particularly for digital natives. The Dictionary.com site includes a simple thesaurus (accessible from the main page or at Thesaurus.com) with a clever tabbed design that makes it super simple to find the exact word you’re looking for. Dictionary.com has newsletters, quizzes and a range of specialized dictionaries that are particularly relevant for the digital world, covering everything from acronyms to emojis.
In a pinch, you can always use Google as your dictionary. Searching specific words with “define” or “definition” included can result in a definition card at the top of your search results page. For example, if you search “barnyard definition,” you’ll get a result that gives a brief definition of the word, an option to translate it into another language and a graph of its use over time. This can be handy for quick reference.
Urban Dictionary, found at urbandictionary.com, is a user-generated definition database, but it operates in a context where the lack of high-brow gatekeeping is a good thing. If you’re ever confused by an internet acronym, like HMU (hit me up) or NPC (non-player character), Urban Dictionary can help you get to the bottom of it. Up-and-coming or highly regionalized slang is also a specialty of Urban Dictionary. Though most entries have multiple definitions, users can vote on which ones are most relevant or correct, giving a better impression of how the word is actually used in practice.
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Using a dictionary and finding the meaning of words
Age range: 7-11
Resource type: Worksheet/Activity
23 March 2016
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For use with an ESOL student in preparation for using a translation dictionary - thank you!
Empty reply does not make any sense for the end user
Perfect thank you!
This is well put together but a bit too tricky for my pupils. :-)
It's so amazing
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Minds in Bloom
By Rachel Lynette
10 FUN Activities for Dictionary Skills
10 Awesome Dictionary Activities
Are you looking for some fun activities for National Dictionary Day? It’s October 16th, which was Noah Webster’s (the father of the American dictionary) birthday!
Hopefully, you’ve got dictionaries, maybe even a class set. They are, of course, great for looking up words and you will use them to teach dictionary skills , but there are also other great things you can do with these rather large volumes of words. Here are just a few ideas:
- Send your students on a Dictionary Scavenger Hunt . You can make one up yourself, or get this one for free.
- Play Speed Word Search . Give each student or pair of students a dictionary. When you call out a word, the student(s) must find the word as quickly as possible. The first person to call out the correct page number wins the round. This would be a good one to do in teams; everyone has his or her own dictionary, but the winner wins a point for the whole team rather than individually. *Bonus – Choose words from an upcoming vocabulary test for this game!
- Play Mystery Word. To play this game, give a series of clues. As students hear the clues, they look for the word in the dictionary until they have narrowed it down to just one. For Example: I begin with the fourth letter of the alphabet. My second letter is an “o.” I am three syllables long. I come before “dog” in the dictionary. My last letter is “t.”
- Play Dictionary Dig. This game is similar to Mystery Word in that you give clues and the students look for a word. The difference is that the clues are broader, and many words could be a correct answer. This one is fun because students enjoy finding more than one word to fit the clues and sharing their words with each other. Example: Find a word that begins with “s,” is two syllables long, has double letters, and is an adjective. You can get a set of 32 Dictionary Dig Task Cards here.
- Collect New Words. Have each student keep a notebook of new words. This is a nice activity to do daily or a few times a week. It is also good for handwriting practice. Each day, each student finds a word in the dictionary that he does not know. He then writes the word, the definition, and an original sentence using the word in his notebook. An illustration would make a nice addition. Have students share their words with at least one other person. You can download a free word booklet for your students!
Download this free dictionary word booklet!
- Make Up New Words. Ask each student to make up a new word and a definition. Have each student write his or her word and definition on a Post-It, and put the Post-It in the appropriate place in the dictionary. Make a class list of the new words and their definitions. Challenge the class to use the words in everyday conversation. This, of course, would go beautifully with the book Frindle!
- Have a Dictionary Relay Race. This is a great way to add a little excitement to your practice! You can download the free game , project it on your whiteboard, and let students write their answer as they move through the relay!
- Play Fictionary. Have you ever played the amazing party game Balderdash? It’s one of my favs! Well, your students can play their own version. Have one student choose an obscure word from the dictionary. They’ll write the actual definition down on a slip of paper. All the other students will write a fake definition down, being careful to make it sound real. In the end, the students will vote on whose definition they think is the real one. This is a super fun game!
- Estimate and Measure . Why not use your dictionaries cross-curriculur? Have the students stack all the dictionaries into one tall tower. Invite each student to estimate how tall the tower is. Record guesses on the board. Measure the tower and see whose answer was the closest. You could also do a similar activity by lining them up end to end across the classroom.
- Line Them Up Like Dominoes. Probably not the best use for your classroom dictionaries…but it would be fun! There is probably some clever way to make it into a physics lesson.
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April 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm
Great activities. Many Thanks!!!!!!!
February 8, 2017 at 6:27 am
Thanks for the great post! I love the ideas of having them collect words they don’t know & making up their own words for a class dictionary! So fun! 🙂
April 18, 2017 at 12:12 am
Thank you for sharing these fun activities! I’ve never known there is so much games with the dictionary.
December 27, 2018 at 6:23 pm
Thank you so much for sharing these great activities! I’m looking forward to using them with my ESL students.
January 21, 2022 at 9:20 pm
Great resources for FREE! TYSM :))
[…] even more hands-on dictionary ideas, Rachel Lynette over at Minds in Bloom has some great ideas in this blog post. The Elementary Librarian also has a great list of activities on her website. There are also two […]
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Collins Primary Dictionaries
Free worksheets - Downloadable activities to boost children's dictionary skills for Years 5 and 6
Hunt the headword, alphabetical order, where do they go, abbreviations, parts of speech, definitions: true or false, dictionaries & thesauruses, collins primary dictionary, collins primary thesaurus, collins primary spanish dictionary.
Designed for children aged 7-11 learning Spanish at primary school or at home, this easy-to-use, vibrant and colourful Collins Primary Spanish Dictionary makes learning fun
Collins Primary French Dictionary
A fun, colourful French to English and English to French dictionary, designed to meet the needs of children aged 7-11 learning French at primary school or at home
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This colourfully illustrated maths dictionary for children offers amazing support for the primary maths curriculum
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More free resources to support your child's learning at home
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Dictionary Skills: Year 4 Vocabulary Worksheets 3
Resource Collection Dictionary and Thesaurus Activities for KS2
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Learning how to use a dictionary to look up the spelling and meaning of words is an important skill to aid spelling and vocabulary when writing.
This year 4 dictionary skills pack (3 of 3) will support pupils to develop the skills needed to use a dictionary successfully.
Activities included: (The first two activities do not require a dictionary) Rewriting words in alphabetical order Choosing the correct definition for words
(The final activities require pupils to have access to dictionaries) Checking the spelling of given words using a dictionary Finding the definitions of words given
National Curriculum Programme of Study links Transcription Pupil should be taught to use the first two or three letters of a word to check its spelling in a dictionary
This resource is part of the Dictionary and Thesaurus Activities for KS2 collection. View more from this collection
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Ks2 comprehension – classic literature…, ks1 and ks2 writing templates for…, year 1 home learning pack (1), year 6 spelling revision – ks2…, look inside.
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Dictionary skills: year 5 vocabulary worksheets 3, thesaurus skills - sounds: year 5 and year 6 worksheets 5, thesaurus skills - characters: year 5 and year 6 worksheets 4, thesaurus skills - speech: year 5 and year 6 worksheets 3, thesaurus skills - movement: year 5 and year 6 worksheets 2, thesaurus skills - feelings: year 5 and year 6 worksheets 1, dictionary skills: year 6 vocabulary worksheets 3, dictionary skills: year 6 vocabulary worksheets 2, browse by year group, upgrade now.
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Dictionary Skills Task Cards
- The first 5 task cards require students to order words in alphabetical order.
- The next 5 task cards require students to order words that begin with the same letter in alphabetical order.
- The next 10 task cards require students to use a dictionary to find the meaning and part of speech of words.
- The final 10 task cards require students to analyse definitions to choose the correct definition for the context.
- Student recording sheet
- Dictionary Skills features poster
- Dictionary Skills tips poster
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