Words-whether written or spoken-are the building blocks of communication. Depending on how they're used, words have the power to inform or confuse, incite or diffuse, inspire or deflate.
A common misconception about words is that bigger is always better. Anyone who has read and appreciated the simple power of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address knows that this is not always true. Still, it is generally thought that the greater a person's vocabulary, the greater their capacity for thoughtful expression.
This is the dictionary of saucy and cynical definitions composed by American journalist Ambrose Bierce. Love, for example, is defined as "A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder."
This dictionary contains illustrated dictionary entries. Small surfers simply click on a letter to see a page of words that start with that letter. The pictures are links, pre-readers can surf with a minimum of help and guidance from adults, and older kids can use Little Explorers as a school reference.
This site is an online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus. It also contains funny word-builder activities and a word of the day.
A student version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, complete with pronunciations and definitions of thousands of words. Visitors can build their own dictionaries or play any of the fun word games and activities.
Introduce yourself to some of the ancient inhabitants of Utah and see the words and messages they etched or painted on rock outcroppings, on canyon walls, and inside sheltered caves. Their pictographs and petroglyphs are ideas they left behind.
Get to know Cyrano de Bergerac. He was the main character in a play by Edmond Rostand. But he was also a real person. In the play, large-nosed, unattractive Cyrano used his romantic, winning words to woo fair Roxanne on behalf of a more handsome, but less articulate, friend.
An eponym is a word that is derived from someone’s name. For example, a sandwich gets its name from the Earl of Sandwich, an Englishman in the 1600s who first put some meat between two slices of bread. Teddy bears get their name from Teddy Roosevelt who declined to shoot a bear tied to a tree on one of his famous hunting trips. A Ferris wheel is named after George Ferris who designed the first Ferris wheel in 1893 for the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Visit with other individuals whose names have become part of our everyday language.
Spend some time with Ken Jennings. He knows all the right words. He is the winning-est contestant in the history of Jeopardy. A software engineer from Utah, Ken won 74 games and $2.52 million dollars on Jeopardy which is a record for American game shows.
Spend time with swearers and decide how you feel about profanity.
Meet the people in Massachusetts who live near a famous lake. The native American word for this lake is Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg which is one of the longest placename words in America.
Learn about the man who published the first truly American dictionary.
This site is for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.
Make the acquaintance of Samuel Morse. He invented a system of writing words with dots and dashes.
Spend time with Tom Sawyer. His words were so persuasive that he could convince bystanders that he was doing them a favor by allowing them to paint his fence for him.
Meet the people who created the Urban Dictionary. It is a specialized dictionary devoted entirely to helping people understand slang words and terms. And props (a slang term for respect or recognition) to the developers of Slangsite.com, a website with a similar goal.
Meet William Archibald Spooner and have him explain how his name came to be associated with the term spoonerism. A spoonerism is when words or letters accidently get tangled up as they come out of our mouths. For example, we might say “keys and parrots” when we meant to say “peas and carrots”. So we could accurately say that spoonerisms are wixed-up murds.
Word lovers can learn a new word a day or browse through the archives for a plethora of words.
At this site students can match words commonly found on SAT tests with definitions in a series of interactive games.
Words that sound alike or nearly alike but have different meanings often cause writers trouble. This site features a few of the most common pairs with correct definitions and examples.
Puzzlemaker is a puzzle generation tool for teachers, students and parents. Create and print customized word search, crossword and math puzzles using your word lists. Build your own maze or print our specialty hand-drawn mazes created around holidays and classroom topics.
Old sayings that have been relied on for hundreds of years. You've probably used these proverbs, or at least have heard them used at some point in your life. But for this brainteaser quiz, they have been re-written using BIG WORDS that mean essentially the same thing, but sound a whole lot different.
Check out this language arts reference tool and comprehensive search engine that includes a rhyming dictionary, a thesaurus, and a cool search engine that enables you to search for references to a particular word in the works of Shakespeare, the Bible, and other sources.
Simple and thoughtful tools to expand your vocabulary for effective communication in the English language. For writers, readers, those with an urgent need for test preparation and everyday people with a penchant for delivering the full range of their thoughts to the world around them.
Students can strengthen their vocabulary through the use of puzzles and an assortment of other word activities.
Elementary school teachers can find printable crosswords on a variety of topics at this site. It also has a link to a site where you can make your own crosswords.
Narrator Bill Moyers probes poets about the intimate process of making their experiences into art. This site also presents helpful tools for teaching poetry, including lesson plans, a teacher's guide, and links to a variety of online poetry resources.
The articles on this site contain strategies that integrate spelling into your reading and writing curriculum and help your students to improve their spelling skills.
- Brantley, Cynthia and Cynthia Johnson. The Princeton Review Word Smart Junior: Build a Straight 'A' Vocabulary/Grades 6-8. Random House, 1995.
- Brantley, Cynthia and Cynthia Johnson. Word Smart Junior II:
More Straight-A Vocabulary. Princeton Review, 1997.
Burchers, Sam et al. Vocabulary Cartoons: Building an Educated Vocabulary With Visual Mnemonics. New Monic Books, 1998.
- Burchers, Sam et al. Vocabulary Cartoons II: Building an Educated Vocabulary with Sight and Sound Memory Aids. New Monic Books, 2000.
- Degross, Monalisa. Donovan's Word Jar. HarperCollins Children's Books, 1994.
- Falwell, Cathryn. Word Wizard. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998.
- Hubbard, L. Ron. How to Use a Dictionary: Picture Book for Children. Effective Education Publishing, 2000.
- Kauffman, Dorothy et al. The Oxford Picture Dictionary for the Content Areas. Oxford University Press, 2000.
- Lederer, Richard. The Circus of Words. Chicago Review Press, 2001.
- Lederer, Richard. The Play of Words: Fun & Games for Language Lovers. Pocket Books, 1991.
- Lederer, Richard. Pun and Games: Jokes, Riddles, Rhymes, Daffynitions, Tairy Fales, and More Wordplay for Kids. Chicago Review Press, 1996.
- Meltzer, Tom. Illustrated Word Smart: A Visual Vocabulary Builder. Princeton Review, 2000.
- Moyers, Bill D. Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and their Craft. Harperperennial Library, 2000.
- Robinson, Adam. Word Smart: Building an Educated Vocabulary. Villard Books, 1993.
- Robinson, Adam. Word Smart II: How to Build a More Educated Vocabulary. Villard Books, 1992.