Megalist of Word Links



On this page:
Dictionaries / Thesauri ---- General Discussion and Information ---- History of English ----
Etymology ---- Vocabulary (including SAT / GRE) ---- Grammar ---- Spelling

On page 2:
Literature on the Web ---- ESL / EFL Resources ---- Word Games and Amusements ---- Of Interest ---- Website Directories

Expedition Gear

(essential tools -- always
keep them within reach)

Merriam Webster
WWW Dictionary


Common Errors in English

Notorious Confusables
Useful mnemonics

Word Pitfalls
"Usages That Make
You Look Stupid"

Words that should be
Banned for Life

Journalists' pet peeves


World Wide Words
Exploring the
English Language

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Dictionaries / Thesauri -- Provides English and multi-lingual dictionary searches, as well as a word lovers' forum, crossword solver, extensive list of links, and other features.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language --'s Fourth Edition features sound files for pronunciation and etymologic information. Can also be accessed at Yahoo!.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online -- Cambridge University Press provides a search engine to several online versions of their dictionaries: International Dictionary of English, Dictionary of American English, International Dictionary of Idioms, and International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. -- A lookup window for dictionary, thesaurus, and web queries. Also offers an extensive website directory, Word of the Day, foreign-language resources, and a discussion forum. -- Returns word, and phrase definitions from a variety of english dictionary resources..

Encarta World English Dictionary -- At the MSN Learning and Research site you can search this dictionary and the Dynamic Atlas for free. Subscribers to the service also have access to Encarta Encyclopedia. -- Provides a number of ways to look up words--such as starting and ending spellings--and a browsing list of preceding and succeeding entries.

Ghostwheel Information Project -- Exploding Dictionary -- Offers a multi-source search engine for dictionaries and technical jargon.

Hypertext Webster Gateway -- Simple and fast interface with public domain dictionary databases. -- A dictionary, encyclopedia, sports, biography, and entertainment reference all accessible from one search engine.

LookWAYup -- A dictionary that corrects spelling, provides translations, and has a number of interesting search features.

One Look Dictionaries -- Searches over 500 specialized dictionaries at once.

A Web of On-line Dictionaries -- Attractive home page gives access to hundreds of specialized sources, grammar tips, daily word, foreign language resources, links, and a library of articles about language. There's also attention to efforts to save languages in danger of dying out.

WordNet 1.6 -- Home page for Princeton's lexical database; retrieves synonym sets and related words. Follow the "Use WordNet..." link. A direct lookup screen is also available at: WordNet 1.6 Vocabulary Helper

Wordsmyth Educational Dictionary-Thesaurus -- Provides lists of synonyms and related terms with definitions. Site has other useful tools, such as vocabulary test generator, crossword puzzle solver, anagram solver, and glossary list maker.

specialized dictionaries

Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology -- Lets you search from over 130 scientific fields; 130,000 entries, some with audio pronunciations.

Artlex Visual Arts Dictionary -- Definitions of over 3000 terms, with abundant links to illustrations, make this an excellent example of how to use the Web as a learning resource. Many longer articles make it an encyclopedic tool as well. Research Library -- Offers a sampling of entries from the Grove Dictionary of Art.

Health Dictionary -- Explanations of medical terms organized by topic.

Little Explorers Picture Dictionary with Links -- More than 1600 words illustrated, many w. links to educational web sites. Young linguists can also learn new vocabulary in French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. From

The On-Line Medical Dictionary -- Over 65,000 definitions pertaining to many branches of science and technology.

The Semantic Rhyming Dictionary -- Retrieves lists of rhyming words, words with consonant matches, homophones, "semantic siblings," definitions, and synonyms.

Strange & Unusual Dictionaries -- Online lists of one-letter, all consonant, and all-vowel words.

Word Central -- Merriam-Webster's dictionary and word activities for kids.

Words of Art -- Lengthy glossary of concepts, schools of thought, methods, and other terminology pertaining to all the arts. Extensively cross-referenced with hyperlinks.

computer / internet vocabulary

Acronyms Used in the Computer Community -- From the Freeware Hall of Fame. A handy and quick-loading list of all those strange acronyms you see in cyberspace messages.

CNET : Glossary -- Explains frequently encountered technical jargon and acronyms in easy-to-understand terms. Consult this one the next time you need to decipher "system requirements."

Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC) -- Started in 1985, now contains over 13,000 cross-referenced definitions. Quick-loading, simple interface. -- Useful collection of lookup tools, inclduding terminology search, acronym, country code, and emoticon lists, and HTML color specs.

Techencyclopedia -- Yields comprehensive definitions for information technology terms, abbreviations, and acronyms.

Web Dictionary of Cybernetics and Systems -- Glossary of concepts and terms relevant to "the principles of evolutionary cybernetics." A good source for explanations of terms encountered in discussions of computer theory and its application to society.

Webopedia -- Searches bring up hyperlinked definitions and links to articles on the subject. Home page also features news headlines from


Merriam-Webster's WWWebster Thesaurus -- Retrieves synonyms and related terms; in some cases also gives usage examples and antonyms.

Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus -- An "artistic exploration" drawing on the WordNet database to show relationships among words. Typing a word in the dialogue box causes it to float on the screen, linked to related words and concepts. Clicking on a word makes it the focus of a new query, calling forth other relationships. (Note: You might have to close some menu bars to be able to read the instructions on the opening screen. The program runs in a separate window.)

Roget's Thesaurus -- Project Gutenberg's version is accessible via University of Chicago, and City University (UK). (The latter produces tidier-looking results.)


General Discussion and Information

online forums

The alt.usage.english Home Page -- Home of the alt.usage.english newsgroup as well as plenty of informational FAQs, audio files, and an archive of the (no longer active) uk.culture.language.english newsgroup.

Ask-A-Linguist -- A resource where anyone can query professional linguists with academic or technical questions on language matters. Provided by The LINGUIST List.

The Forum -- Online discussion of a wide range of English language-related topics.

The UsingEnglish Community -- Online discussion related to learning the English language.

Wordwizard -- A forum for fielding queries on word and phrase origins and general assistance with writing; this site also has sections devoted to slang terms, insults, writers' birthdays, and an extensive directory of links to author sites.

in general -- "Passionate about language," this site from Oxford University Press offers feature articles, challenging word games, writing and word usage tips, a word of the day, a listing of internet acroynms and emoticons, a dictonary and thesaurus, and an "Ask the Experts" section.

British Library: English Accents and Dialects -- Collection of sound files from the Survey of English Dialects illustrating regional differences in Great Britain, and extracts from the Millennium Memory Bank oral history collection.

Collins Cobuild -- Dictionary, database, and commentary on contemporary word usage.

Double-Tongued Word Wrester -- This "growing dictionary of old and new words" tracks new words and phrases entering English usage.

Focusing on Words -- Articles and quizzes on vocabulary and word origins.

Longman Dictionaries Home Page -- Articles, activities, and teachers' resources. Longman also provides the English pages with college-level reading and writing exercises (follow the "Composition" and "Basic Skills" links) and online resources about several noted authors ("Literature").

Richard Lederer's Verbivore -- Featuring his column "Looking at Language."

Plain English Campaign -- UK site dedicated to purging jargon and bureaucratese from public discourse. Exposes language abusers with its annual Golden Bull awards. The Free Guides section has helpful tips on writing with clarity.

Plain English Network (PEN) -- Campaign by a government-wide group of volunteers working to improve communications from the U.S. federal government to the public. Site has many resources for improving your writing, essays on usage, humor collections, and links to similar efforts underway in other locales.

Verbatim -- Online version of the magazine, devoted to the amusing, interesting, and engaging aspects of language.

The Vocabula Review -- Monthly online magazine examines the current state of the English language. Regular columns such as "Grumbling About Grammar" and "Scarcely Used Words," along with original feature articles.

Word for Word -- Word origins, queries, and extensive list of links for writers.

WordLab -- A site devoted to concocting slogans, naming things, and just generally playing with sounds and syllables. Large database of name possibilities. Also check out the Morpheme Machine (under Name Tools), articles, and bulletin board.

Word Spy -- Web site devoted to "lexpionage," the sleuthing of new words and phrases that appear in contemporary media.

Words, Words, and More Words -- Collection of articles on topics ranging from scrabble to haiku to millennium toasts.

Words can and do break bones -- Poignant essay by Gary B. Larson.


History of English

From Inkwell to Internet -- Merriam-Webster's brief look at the history of English.

A (Very) Brief History of the English Language -- Overview, significant dates, nice illustrations; from Wilton's Etymology Page.

The Language of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings -- An overview of how the language of Britain changed after the 5th- and 6th-century Germanic invasions, showing the Anglo-Saxon roots of modern words. Interesting illustrations.

English and its History -- Sample texts from Old and Middle periods, commentary, charts, bibliography, and links; from Blue Rider Development.

History of the English Language -- Archive of the HEL-L discussion list and extensive list of links.

Voice of the Shuttle: English Literature, Anglo-Saxon & Medieval -- Comprehensive list of links to scholarly resources.

Beowulf in Hypertext -- Elegant site offering both old and modern versions of the text, along with information on the history, archaeology, and characters. (The text search option, however, did not seem to be working at the time I visited this site. 6/30/04)

The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies -- Large collection of online texts in Old and Middle English, including Beowulf (open a second browser window to read the Harvard Classics translation ).

Beowulf Guide -- Collection of background information the origins, settings, characters, interwoven narratives of Beowulf, and links to other resources.

Hwt! Old English in Context -- Samples of Old English organized by topic to develop reading ability.

Old English at the University of Calgary -- Elegant site full of lessons, texts, grammar, and sound files for an Internet-based course.

Old English Pages -- Links to online and commercial sources of texts, art, and sound files.

Instant Old English -- "A Conversational Phrasebook." (For conjectures on how these might have been pronounced, open a second browser window to Blue Rider's: Pronunciation, or to Tony Jebson's Learning Old English.)

Scullionspeak -- Nicholas Howe reviews Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf with some fascinating insights into the work's history and its place in literature.

The Middle English Collection -- Chaucer and other texts from the University of Virginia.

Middle English Compendium -- from the University of Michigan. Huge collection of publicly available texts; follow the "Corpus ..."/ "Bibliography" links. Members of affiliated institutions also have access to the Middle English Dictionary.

The Canterbury Tales -- Annotated with a glossary (requires a frames-enabled browser).

The Geoffrey Chaucer Website -- Extensive collection of materials for Harvard University's Chaucer classes. Includes a chronology, biographical and bibliographical information, and plenty of background articles as well as Chaucer's Pronunciation, Grammar and Vocabulary, which provides QuickTime sound files for learning pronunciation.

Luminarium: Anthology of Middle English Literature (1350-1485) -- Works of Chaucer, Mallory, and many others. Engaging multimedia site; many links to art and sound files so that, with some searching and windows manipulation, you can simultaneously read and hear many of the texts.

Loanwords -- A Rice University professor's list of selected words absorbed into English, sorted by origin and time period.



About Some Words and their origins -- Long list of unusual words traced to their source languages.

Alt.Folklore.Urban & Urban Legends Etymology page -- Archived alt.folklore.urban discussions on orgins of slang words, vulgarisms, and expressions.

Canadian Word Books -- Site provides several engaging excerpts from Bill Casselman's Canadian Sayings books.

Etymologic -- Genial and challenging quiz tests your knowledge of sources.

Etymologically Speaking -- Explains some "curious word origins" (and from which we learn that "senator" is related to "senile").

The Etymology Club -- Online discussion forum for those "addicted to language structure and semantics, neologisms, word games, language evolution, or good old-fashioned etymology."

Martha Barnette's -- Follow the "Learn a New Word!" link for a list of unusual words and their origins.

Online Etymology Dictionary -- Compiles information from over three dozen print sources on English word origins.

Origin of Phrases -- Several dozen colloquialisms explained.

Phrase Finder -- Meanings and/or origins of 6000 phrases.

So to Speak -- Explains the meaning and origins of many common English-language expressions. From McDougal Littell educational publishers.

Take Our Word For It -- Weekly e-zine investigating the origins of words and phrases.

Think Baby Names -- Searchable site listing origins of over 6900 names.

Wilton's Etymology Page -- Well-documented explanations of common colloquialisms & slang terms.

The Word Detective -- Regular column on etymology with archive of hundreds of words and phrases. Home Page -- Attractive site packed with information, especially good for distinguising real etymologies from popularly assumed but false ones. Explains origins of over 300 terms and phrases. Also has a discussion board.

A Word With You -- Daily column on word origins and relationships and other "little known facts."

Ye Olde English Sayings -- The stories behind several dozen sayings and phrases.



general information

100 words that all high school graduates--and their parents--should know -- By the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries and recently discussed on NPR. Provides full definitions and pronunciation sound files.

Hutchinson Dictionary of Difficult Words -- Over 13,900 difficult words to increase your vocabulary and ensure your entry to the literati.

Vocabulary and TOEFL -- Bibliography of reference works and teaching manuals for educators.

Wordsmyth Foundry -- The Vocabulary Quiz Builder and the Glossary Maker provide useful tools for teachers. Also includes an Anagram Solver and Crossword Puzzle Helper.


GRE: Sample Test Questions -- A sampling of verbal, quantitative, and analytical ability questions that might appear on the GRE. From

Fallbrook High School: Mr. Raymond's Page -- A California high school teacher's lists of words to learn, with brief definitions and/or synonyms.

SAT Question of the Day -- The official College Board site offers a daily sample question (from either the verbal or math segent) and an explanation of the answer. The PSAT/NMSQT section has helpful sample questions and the Getting Ready section has some useful tips for taking the tests.

Secrets of the SAT -- Background information accompanying the PBS Frontline documentary on the "national obsession" with the test and its fairness. History, interviews with educators, and an opportunity to evaluate some of the applicants to U.C. Berkeley.

The Study Hall: Serial Vocabulary -- SAT words incorporated into a mystery novella; definitions appear in a separate frame. Other sections of this site offer helpful tips on taking the SAT. GRE Preparation Practice Exercise -- Commercial site that offers some free sample GRE-level quizzes. Vocab Builder -- Free preview of this company's vocabulary building software.

Vocabulary Cab -- This site has either moved or been discontinued. If anyone can send me their updated URL, I will post it here.

WebWare for the SAT -- Commercial site that offers free sample SAT skill lessons and quizzes.

A Year's Worth of Words -- 366 useful words for SAT/GRE study. Part of Charles Darling's Guide to Grammer and Writing.

daily (or weekly) words

Word of the Day -- Academic or unusual words and their histories charmingly explained; from Merriam-Webster.

Oxford English Dictionary, Word of the Day -- A complete entry from the OED each day, showing a detailed history of a word and its use. Word of the Week -- Essays on the character and etymology of many useful and playful words.

english rules' Word of the Day -- Useful vocabulary improvement site, with options to receive daily updates via email or RSS. Part of a blog devoted to writing, grammar, and other topics.

Maven's Word of the Day -- Archive of the former daily column on word and phrase origins.

Martha Barnette's -- See item under "Etymology."

Vocab Vitamins -- Commercial vocabulary improvement site that offers a free daily word feature.

A.Word.A.Day -- Figures of speech and advanced vocabulary words, selected according to a weekly theme.

Word of the Day -- Academic vocabulary words and peculiar phrases, from; extensive archive.

Worthless Word for the Day -- For the hard-core vocabulary fetishist: a new "obscure, abstruse and/or recondite word" defined each day.


Dillon's Online Vocabulary -- 26 intermediate level quizzes and three at the "master's" level.

Fake Out -- Guessing game with opportunities to supply fake definitions for future quizzes.

Learning Vocabulary Can Be Fun -- Free online games and quizzes for young learners and for SAT prepration.

Rate Yourself Vocabulary Quiz -- One of dozens of self-tests in an attractive and fun site.

Reader's Digest Word Power -- Timed multiple-choice vocabulary quizzes; requires Shockwave.

Sheppard Software -- Vocabulary quizzes, at many levels.

Spizzerinctum -- Obscure words in the news.

Vocabulary Stretching Games -- JavaScript match and multiple-choice games, intermediate to challenging.

Vocab -- Free online tests for advancing high school students' vocabulary skills.

Vocabulary University -- Word-meaning puzzles for elementary level to college prep. learners. -- Site devoted to vocabulary acquisition. The Random link allows you to quiz yourself from the site's database. Other features require registering for a free account.

Word Quiz -- Part of a suite of colorful, multiple-choice quizzes from CoolQuiz; high scorer of the month wins a T-shirt.

brief definitions -- general

Antagonyms -- Words that have contradictory meanings.

Commonly Confused Words -- (Now under Grammar: usage guides)

Forthright's Phrontistery International House of Logorrhea -- Brief definitions of 7000+ arcane words.

Frequently Confused Words -- (Now under Grammar: usage guides)

Things Useful To The Educated Reader -- Several handy lists such as "Confusing Word Pairs," "Foreign Expressions . . ." and "Important Infrequently Used Words To Know."

brief definitions -- foreign loan-words

Foreign Words and Phrases -- A useful list explaining expressions such as ipso facto and savoir-faire.

Robb: German English -- German words often encountered in English usage.

Latin Abbreviations and Expressions
Latin Phrases and Words Used in English -- Two brief but very handy lists.



general or comprehensive sources

The American Heritage Book of English Usage -- General reference covering grammar, style, diction, word formation, gender, pronunciation, scientific forms, and usage.

Grammar Handbook at the Writers' Workshop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- Quick access to over three dozen topics; brief and clear explanations.

Guide to Grammar and Style, by Jack Lynch, Rutgers University -- Extensive list of topics described in plain and friendly language.

Guide to Grammar and Writing -- (Home of the "Notorious Confusables.") Extensive source covering sentence and paragraph formation, essay principles, and answers to grammar questions, with an index listing a multitude of other topics. Site also has interactive cgi and javascript quizzes and PowerPoint presentations.

Hutchinson Dictionary of English Usage -- (See usage guides)

The King's English, by H. W. Fowler -- Venerable authority on English usage, syntax, grammar, punctuation, and style (1908 edition).

Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University -- Extensively cross-referenced and readable guide to terms and concepts employed in rhetoric, literature, and communication.

The UVic Writer's Guide, University of Victoria, British Columbia -- Grammar and usage concepts from a Canadian point of view.

style guides

Writing Better, A Handbook for Amherst Students, by Susan Snively, Writing Counselor, Amherst College -- Good collection of information on the process, logic, and mechanics of writing good papers.

The Curmudgeon's Stylebook -- A copy editor's extensive collection of pointers and decrees, alphabetically presented.

The Economist Styleguide -- British preferred usages and spellings.

Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. -- First edition (1918) of what evolved into the enduring and ubiquitous term-paper reference guide. (For a brief publishing history and review of the fouth edition, see "Principles of Plainspeak" from the San Francisco Chronicle, 10/10/99.)

Eleven Rules of Writing -- An easy-to-use explanation of the basic concepts of good writing, including that baffling restrictive vs. non-restrictive comma rule. Each concept is fortified with helpful examples. (Site uses frames.)

Garbl's Editorial Style Manual -- An online reference guide to abbreviations, capitalization, English grammar, numbers, punctuation, spelling, terminology and word usage.

Guidelines for the Introduction of Non-sexist Language -- Helpful suggestions for making your writing inclusive of both women and men.

MLA Style -- Modern Language Association's recommendations for preparing scholarly papers.

National Public Radio Online Styleguide -- Pronunciation, usage, and grammar.

Style Guide for the Multimedia Room Web Site and CD-ROM -- Introduction to the organization, formatting, and layout of interactive tutorials stressing the principles of consistency and user-friendliness.

Wired Style -- Editorial principles for nonlinear technical documents.

usage guides

Commonly Confused Words -- Helpful guide to correct usage of homonyms and words whose spellings or tenses are often confused.

Frequently Confused Words -- Useful review list of the most commonly confused homonyms, from Western Carolina University.

Hutchinson Dictionary of English Usage -- Affect or effect? Ensure or assure? Fewer or less? This source explains correct usage for 1600 terms.

The It's vs. Its page -- If you never learn another rule of grammar in your life, learn this one.

Webgrammar -- Handy chart of confusing word pairs and explanations of commonly mistaken homonyms.

reviews and exercises

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation -- The web site promoting the print version provides useful summaries of common gammar and punctuation mistakes, along with brief quizzes for self-testing.

Daily Grammar -- Easily digestible lessons on parts of speech and sentence structure. Check the archive for a list of topics.

Dr. Renard Doneskey's Writing Review -- Helpful reviews of selected topics with Java-based exercises.

Grammar Test -- An online workout from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Purdue University Writing Lab -- Useful explanations and workouts cover topics in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and writing strategies.

Syvum Homepage: Online Education and Interactive Learning -- Commercial site that offers quite a bit of free online sample content, including multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises on English and Reading for Kids (K - 6) and English Grammar and Reading Quizzes.

Webgrammar (Now under: usage guides)

Word Police -- Barbara Wallraff's witty interactive column in the Atlantic Unbound. Put yourself through the grammar grilling and see if you have what it takes.

Writing Center Handouts -- from the University of Delaware. Especially useful are "Rules for Commas" and "Using Apostrophes Correctly."

columns and FAQs

The Chicago Manual of Style FAQ -- Editorial staff answer readers' questions.

The Copyediting-l Style FAQ -- Democracy in copyediting: offers the compiled (sometimes diverging) opinions from participants of the Copyediting-l mailing list on grammar and usage questions.

Daily Grammar -- Now under "reviews and exercises," above.

English Grammar FAQ -- Archive of John Lawler's postings on alt.usage.english, with links to more linguistics arcana, including the Chomskybot.

Grammar Bytes -- Colorful presentation, with definitions and exercises.

The Grammar Lady -- Follow the "FAQ/Has the Answers" and "Columns" links to find answers to grammar questions.

Language Corner, Columbia Journalism Review -- Discussions of contemporary language uses and abuses.

citing online sources

Bibliographic Formats for Citing Electronic Information -- Summarizes APA and MLA formats.

Columbia Guide to Online Style -- Recommendations for a range of disciplines and source types.

The English Pages Online Citation Guides -- Explanations and examples covering a variety of situations.

Guide for Citing Electronic Information -- Examples and links to other guides, from the Sarah Byrd Askew Library.

On-line Resources for Documenting Electronic Sources -- Links to explanations of formats preferred in several disciplines.



500 frequently misspelled words -- (The list is embedded near the top of an archive of Linguist list messages.)

Commonly Misspelled Words -- List of over 500 words with dictionary lookup access.

Differences between British, Canadian and American Spelling -- Useful chart spells out (pardon) the differences for over a hundred words.

Everyday Spelling -- Part of a site promoting Addison Wesley publications; provides useful spelling review lists and quizzes ranked by grade level.

Frequently Misspelled Words -- Useful review list from Western Carolina University.

A List Of Words Commonly Misspelled -- Lengthy list from the University of Victoria (British Columbia) Writer's Guide.

Look Cover Write and Check -- Very engaging spelling practice site, developed by a British primary school. Has options for practicing specific tricky letter combinations, as well as science and geography vocabulary.

Spellaroo and Spell Check -- Two games from : in Spellaroo you must hop on the misspelled words; Spell Check offers a "hard" level requiring you to type the correct spelling for reinforcement. Both are great for the young speller (and adults who need the practice).

Spelling it Right: Learn to Spell Confidently -- Provides many helpful tips and worksheets that tackle specific spelling challenges. Site is appropriate for children, their parents, and adults who want to improve their skills.

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