A few useful links

Over the years, we have found a number of useful resources on the Web. Here are some that we feel are worth sharing:


The home of Merriam-Webster. The online dictionary and thesaurus are very extensive, if a little out of date. For a subscription, you have access to the most recent and most comprehensive dictionaries.

A relatively small, but reliable online dictionary, particularly for British English.

A subscription service which provides access to the full OED online. Probably the most extensive record of the English language, particularly with respect to etymology. Gratis online access may be available using an ID issued by your local library.

A site providing access to several dictionaries, including the American Heritage Dictionary, along with many other interesting services.

A sister site to Dictionary.com providing Roget’s New Millennium Thesaurus online.

A single lookup engine that looks up words in 900 online dictionaries, including many of those listed here. Probably your first port of call if you just want to look up a word quickly.

For anyone interested in the etymology of Germanic languages (including English) and who can read German, this classic work by the Brothers Grimm is now online. It is, sadly, very often slow. Although now dated, the vast majority of the etymological conclusions are still held to be valid by modern historical linguists.

An online dictionary of economics and business terms from The Economist.

An extensive etymological dictionary gleaned from many different sources. Useful as a quick etymology reference and starting point for further research.

Search the themes to locate words, or find the meaning of a word by viewing the image it represents.

This is a free online dictionary/thesaurus whose features include extensive cross-references, complete inflections, a simple interface, and frequent updates. The original Memidex database was derived from the WordNet database developed by Princeton University.

This free online dictionary/thesaurus exists both as an online resource and a downloadable program. For Windows users, it includes a simple-to-use, comprehensive English dictionary and thesaurus, and can be used to look up words from within most programs using a customizable hot-key combination. Once it is downloaded and installed, no internet connection is required. It takes the form of dictionary apps for mobiles, tablets and Mac desktop. It is based on the WordNet database developed by Princeton University. A paid-for version with additional features is also available.

Usage and style

An abbreviated version of the Economist Style Guide available online. An authoritative guide to issues of style when writing journalistic texts.

H. W. Fowler’s classic work online provided by Bartleby.com. The online edition is the 2nd edition (1908), but still makes good sense for the most part, and Fowler’s own inimitable style is always worth reading.

One of the better online treatments of English grammar.

One of the classic works on English style by William Strunk, Jr. The online version is the 1918 edition, but most of it is still sound and applicable.

Words and etymology

Run by Michael Quinion, one of the UK’s most respected etymologists, World Wide Words is a must for anybody interested in words and language. Sadly, Mr Quinion has now retired and is not updating existing entries or adding new ones. But the body of work he has built remains both compelling and entertaining.

The online version of The Word Detective, a newspaper column answering readers’ questions about words and language. The Word Detective is a potpourri of curious facts about our language written by Evan Morris. Sadly for both Mr Morris and his readers, he is no longer updating the site due to a terminal health prognosis.

A web site devoted to tracking down new words as they appear. A must for those trying to keep up with neologisms in the language.

Another site devoted to etymology written by Dave Wilton. The range of words covered is limited, but the treatment is sound.

A site not unlike Wordwizard with a discussion forum and a searchable database of phrases.

An extensive etymological dictionary gleaned from many different sources. Useful as a quick etymology reference and starting point for further research.

12 more exact or more interesting alternatives for each of 16 commonly used, basic words.


The 1919 edition of this classic collection of quotations.

When you get used to the interface, this is a fun site full of pithy aphorisms. Unfortunately, like most collections of quotations on the Web, it doesn’t identify the exact source of the quotation.


A good, sound online dictionary of slang compiled by Ted Duckworth.

The slang of detective novels and movies.


A powerful anagram solver featuring several languages.

An anagram-based word puzzle.

A website with enough quotations and smart-alec remarks to satisfy anyone’s wildest ambitions for making a thoroughly opinionated nuisance of themselves.

A curious site full of curious linguistic titbits.

A light-hearted but thought-provoking look at conversational techniques.

A lighthearted look into the world of branding.

A nice little game, quite adictive, that actually does someone else a bit of good as you play.

Online texts

A vast stock of “plain vanilla” books. Download them, print them and read them at your leisure. Some of the greatest and most influential books in literary history are here. Books in many other languages also available.

Links to online books at many different sites. Founded and edited by John Mark Ockerbloom of the University of Pennsylvania.

A collection of many classic titles related to language. Thesauri, Dictionaries, Fowler, Brewer and many more. Mostly not the latest versions, but a genuine treasure trove nevertheless.