A New Twist on Dictionaries

"Mom?  How do you spell precocious?"
"Look it up in the dictionary."
"But I don't know how to spell it!"

Ah, the dreaded dictionary. For many of us, our first experience with one was an indirect childhood punishment. A dry, sterile, overwhelming tool. No fun at all. Look up a word, and find it described by other words you don't understand. So you look them up, and then repeat. Next thing you know, you've accidentally learned something.

My favorite entries in the dictionary were always the ones with pictures (they still are, truth be told). Seemed to me, every entry should have a picture (not possible, I realize, but such was the case with many of my childhood wishes). That leads us to today's post, where in keeping with the overall theme of this blog, I'll describe some free, online resources that I've found valuable, especially as an indie author.

First, a dictionary where every entry does have a picture! The Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online contains 6,000 full-color images of a wide variety of objects from all aspects of life. I've included an example entry below:
elements of ancient costume [3] - Visual Dictionary Online
Similar to the Visual Online Dictionary is the Photographic Dictionary, which has full-color photographs (and simple definitions) of over 5,000 words. An interesting feature of the Photographic Dictionary is the ability to browse or search for words not only by letters or category, but buy rhyme as well.

Another website I love is the Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture. Again, every entry has an accompanying illustration. Although this website focuses on medieval architecture, much of the terminology still applies to modern architecture, and many of these styles and structures still exist throughout cities of the world.

An exciting resource I've recently found (and have yet to explore fully) is the Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary. While this resource doesn't provide illustrations or photographs of words, it does provide dynamic diagrams detailing associations with other words and concepts. It's difficult to explain, so I'd recommend checking out the link.You won't be disappointed.

I also frequently use the Visual Thesaurus at Free Thesaurus.org, which is concept similar to a simplified Visuwords™. It's a quick and easy way to find alternate words, and see them arranged graphically.

So the next time Pro Writing Aid tells you you've used the work 'brown' 14 times in your chapter, maybe one of these sites can help you out.

Mirrors & Mist update:  I'm still editing draft one of book two of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy. Current word count broke 70,000 last night, which feels like a milestone. I'm now editing Chapter 14 of 18, so I'm getting closer to the 2nd draft. Please stay tuned!