The Dictionary Gets a Handy Web 2.0 Makeover


Are you the kind of person who owns a dictionary? (Yes, a Scrabble dictionary still counts.) If you answered no, scroll down to the next post. But if you’ve got a tattered OED or a Merriam-Webster sitting on a shelf across the room, we’ve found something that you’re going to really love: Wordnik.

The site was started by Erin McKean, the then editor-in-chief of the Oxford University Press’ American dictionaries — so it’s legit! — to address a problem she saw with traditional versions. To summarize: The fact that they hold only hold a portion of all of the words we use and the ways we use them. Wordnik operates similarly to Wikipedia, with the public allowed to contribute and McKean says that they have, so far, managed to avoid some of the prank issues that have plagued wiki over the years.

But the coolest part is what this baby can do. Wordnik supplements each entry with all the nifty Internet stuff we love like Flickr images, Twitter search matches, user tags and comments. It also givesmore interesting examples of proper use, like this one for bacon: “Mama deals with him and his bacon is only elevenpence, and he’ll always bring you letters too, Bacon!”

We have no idea what that was about, but we are totally amused. Also, there’s a little graph over to the side that tells you how common the word has been over the years and how weird it was considered at the time (by the way, “bling” is a lot older than you might think, and had a strange surge in popularity around 1830).

So, are you dying to go nerd out? If so, humor us and drop a comment with the first word you plan to look up.