Tag Archives: dictionaries

Quiz: Word of the Year 2016 and 15 New Words Added to Dictionaries

After much discussion Oxford Dictionaries has decided to choose the adjective “post-truth” as its Word of the Year 2016. The adjective means ”relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” and although it has existed for a decade now, this year has seen a spike in its use due, mainly, to the referendum in the United Kingdom and the US elections.

Some common collocations for the adjective are:

  • post-truth politics
  • post-truth age
  • post-truth era
  • post-truth democracy
  • post-truth society

The term, closely associated with the noun“post-truth politics” has been chosen ahead of terms such as “Brexiteer” (someone who supports the Brexit) and “alt-right”, (group of people with far right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in the United States).

I would gladly explain and elaborate a bit more on this adjective, but it isn’t worth the effort as Oxford Dictionaries has published a beautiful explanatory article giving all the details. You can read it here.

I’m not going to lie. This week has been tough for a multiple of reasons, and believe it or not, one of the things that brought a smile to my face was designing this little quiz with all the new words added to dictionaries this year. To be honest, I didn’t know most of them and learning what they meant and inventing false definitions for the quiz was something I really enjoyed.

So, without further ado, here’s the quiz. I hope you enjoy it!

Six Amazing Websites that Make Your Writing Stronger

Long writing activities are not very frequently done in class. I tend to think that my students are like me; I need the right kind of atmosphere. Writing requires time, silence and lots of inspiration. Ideally, at this time of the year, I would probably wish to be sitting next to a fireplace with the most perfect instagrammable snow falling outside my window while drinking a nice cup of coffee waiting for inspiration to strike. Unfortunately, there isn’t any snow where I live so I’ll have to make do with a bit of rain and some reddish trees. Note: you won’t find “instagrammable” in the dictionary 🙂

Inspiration, the most important word when writing and something my students claim to lack. Inspiration won’t come from your computer screen, but Internet can certainly help you a lot when struggling to find the right word. 

These are some great sites that can help you make your writing stronger.

Photo by Tekke

1. Skell (Sketch Engine for Language Learning) explores the English language in more than one billion words from news, scientific papers, Wikipedia articles, fiction books, web pages, and blogs.

Skell is easy to use.

  • Search for a word or a phrase.
  • Click on Examples to get the most presentable sentences containing this word.
  • Click on Word sketch to get a list of words which occur frequently together with the searched word.
  • Click on Similar words (not only synonyms) where you’ll find words used in similar contexts visualized with a word cloud.

 

2.Netspeak is a really helpful site to help you write better. It helps you find the word or phrase you’re looking for by suggesting common combinations organised by frequency.

You can find the word(s) you’re looking for by typing signs as seen in the picture below.

  • Type ? in your query before, after or in the middle to find a missing word. Type ?? or ??? if you want to find two or three words.
  • Use dots (…) to find one, two, or more words at the same time.
  • Use square brackets to check which of two or more words is most common, or if none applies. For example: think [ of in ]
  • Use curly brackets to check in which order two or more words are commonly written { only for members }
  • To find the best synonym, use the hash sign in front of a word to check which of its synonyms are commonly written.

If you want to read some sample sentences, you only need to click the + sign

 

3. Just the word is a simple quick collocation finder you are going to love.

  • Enter the word or phrase you want to search
  • Click on “combinations” to see the most common words it collocates with and after each combination, you’ll find its frequency in their corpus (about 80,000,000 words of the BNC).
  • In the right-hand frame, you’ll find the part (s) of speech and the types of relation that the word is found in. For example, if you’re looking for the right adjective to modify a noun you’ve chosen, click on the ‘ADJ mod <word>’ link.

 

4. Words to Use is a nice neat site, which unlike a thesaurus groups theme-related words by parts of speech. Each theme, from “animals” to “vehicles” is divided by parts of the speech- adjectives, nouns, verbs, types of…, phrases, etc.

Are you looking for adjectives that collocate with “movies”? The site lists over 200 adjectives listed in alphabetical order.

Do you want to use a negative word that collocates with “friends”? Or maybe a verb frequently used to refer to friendship? Then, you might want to give this site a try!

 

5. Collins English Thesaurus

There are some very good thesauruses /θɪˈsɔːrʌɪ/  online, but this one is my favourite.

But, what is a thesaurus and what is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus?

A “thesaurus” /θɪˈsɔːrəs/  is a reference work that lists words grouped together according to similarity of meaning (containing synonyms and sometimes antonyms ), in contrast to a dictionary, which provides definitions for words, and generally lists them in alphabetical order. The main purpose of such reference works is to help the user “to find the word, or words, by which an idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed. (source Wikipedia). Unlike a dictionary, a thesaurus does not give you the meaning or the pronunciation of a word.

 

6. Pro Writing Aid is a fantastic free site that will help you with the final stage of the writing process. This is a tool you want to use after you have written something, to improve it.

Paste the text you want to edit by pressing Ctrl+V. There is a maximum of 3,000 words.

Press the ‘Analyze’ button. A window will appear while the analysis is being run.

Once the analysis is complete the processing window will disappear and the summary screen for your analysis will be displayed. This will give you an overview of any issues and suggestions found in your writing.

 

You might want to have a look at this post “Six Wonderful Sites to Help you Write, Speak and Sound Better” I published last year.

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Lingro: a Cool Way to Read and Increase your Vocabulary

Everybody knows  that one of the best ways to acquire new vocabulary is by reading, but what do you normally do? Do you look up new words as you come across them while you’re reading, do you write them down to look them up later  when you put down your book,or do you just skip them and try to infer their meanings?

If you should ask me, most of the times I try to  work out the meaning of words. I try to figure out what the words mean by looking at the context. However, I have to admit, that when I am reading on my iPad I find myself looking up words much more often  than when I am reading a book or something on the Internet, and this is thanks to the built in dictionary that makes things easier and even fun; I sometimes play against myself trying to guess the meaning of a word and then checking in the dictionary.

We could say that Lingro works like a built in dictionary, too. Lingro is an amazing free website that can facilitate a lot the reading process.

How does it work?

  • Enter the website address to make all the words on the page clickable
  • Click on any word to see its definition in English or in any other 11 languages
  • Register if you want create and categorize word lists and play  flashcard games
  • It’s free. Registering is optional

 

Six Wonderful Sites to Help you Write, Speak and Sound Better

I’m not a native speaker. Even though I read, write, work and I would almost dare say live  and dream in  English, I haven’t learned the language from birth and sometimes have moments of self-doubt. These websites I am going to share in this post have been an invaluable help.

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Howjsay  and Forvo: The world’s largest dictionaries of English Pronunciation

How often have you come across a proper name you had no clue how to pronounce and you desperately needed to know the  correct standard  pronunciation of or perhaps  a variant pronunciation of this word?  Let’s say you want to know the pronunciation of the word “selion”. You go to the most important online dictionaries offering pronunciation, but the word you’re looking up is not there and you suddenly begin to panic. At this stage you can do three things: panic, pretend you know how to pronounce it ( you just know how to sound British, no problem there) or look up the word in any of these two amazing sites that have saved my skin countless times.

Linguee

We all know how difficult it is to write, even more in a foreign language. More often than not we look up words in dictionaries only to find that it offers so many possibilities for the translation of the word that  we don’t know which one to choose for the context we need. In fact, sometimes it doesn’t help us at all but makes things more complicated as we don’t know which word to use to mean what we want to express and we end up completely frustrated. Here, Linguee can help us as it is a bilingual dictionary but  in context

Phraseup

Sometimes we know what we want to write, the sentence is phrased in our mind, but we can’t figure out some of the words we need. This is where phraseup*comes in. It assists you with writing, by suggesting possible combinations to fill-in the words you can’t remember. Each suggestion is accompanied by definitions, synonyms and translations to other languages.
Imagine you know there is an expression containing the words ” take” and “granted” but you have forgotten what goes in the middle, PhraseUp can help you here, too. Just type the words that you remember and put an asterisk * where you want the application to insert something. Very useful, isn’t it?

Or maybe  you want to use the verb+preposition combination “cope with” but you are just not sure which words it collocates with, just type it in PhraseUp and options will be provided.

Ozdic.com

I have been using ozdic.com for years and this is a dictionary I cannot live without. It is not any dictionary, it also help you to sound more natural when speaking or writing in English. Let’s  say you don’t know the preposition that collocates with the verb “insist”, or which adverbs sound  more natural with this verb; let’s imagine you need to use the word “idea” but you have no clue what adjective to use  apart from the overused “good “. Go to the dictionary now, this is just a sample of what you’ll find : bright, brilliant, clever, excellent,, marvellous | valuable, worthwhile | exciting, inspirational, interesting, stimulating | constructive, positive | absurd, bad, mistaken, ridiculous | , crazy, mad, outlandish, wild | half-baked | ambitious, big, grand.

The dictionary contains over 150,000 collocations for nearly 9,000 headwords and it is based on the 100 million word British National Corpus.

Text2Phonetics 

It is a wonderful tool that can save a lot of time if you need to transcribe something. I have tried it with small texts (two or three lines) and it’s incredible! You will be able to  pronounce a whole text perfectly .
Just paste the text you want to transcribe and click the Transcribe Button to get the transcription.

Sentence Your Dictionary: a great help

Hello everyone! I hope you have a  happy Monday!!

In this blog I have published a handful of links to different dictionaries  and today I want to share with you one  I’ve been using quite  a lot lately. Yourdictionary.com  has a lot of
tools to help you understand and use  a word .

It provides the user with simple and clear definitions, synonyms, quotes where the  word is used, the etymology of the word…etc,  but the tool I  like best and the main reason why I keep coming back to this dictionary is the SEE IN A SENTENCE tool, because very often, to understand  the meaning of a word  you need more than the definition. Seeing how the word is used in a sentence, seeing how the word is used in a context is a great help for the non-native speaker.

I seriously wish I had so many good dictionaries for free when I first started studying English. They would have made my life so much easier!

PhraseUp: A Useful Online Tool

Sometimes we know what we want to write, the sentence is phrased in our mind, but we can’t figure out some of the words we need. This is where phraseup* comes in. It assists you with writing, by suggesting possible combinations to fill-in the words you can’t remember. Each suggestion is accompanied by definitions, synonyms and translations to other languages.
Imagine you want to use the verb+preposition combination “cope with” but you are just not sure which words it collocates with, just type it in PhraseUp and options will be provided.

Or maybe you know there is an expression containing the words ” take” and “granted” but you have forgotten what goes in the middle, PhraseUp can help you here, too. Just type the words that you remember and put an asterisk * where you want the application to insert something. Very useful, isn’t it?


Give it a go, it is free and you don’t even need to register.

WordHippo: an Online Dictionary and Much More

Word Hippo is a very useful online dictionary for students and for teachers. I absolutely adore the pink hippo but this is just something to add up to the list of reasons why I like this site. Word Hippo is very simple to use and everything is on the same site.

Do you need to find a synonym to avoid repeating one word (for example, I’m really tired of my students saying and writing  I think that all the time), here you’ll find not only synonyms of the word you are looking up ,but also its antonyms. You will also find the meaning of the word and its translation, words that rhyme with it and you can even get its plural/singular, if it is a noun, or its past/present if it is a verb. Amazing , isn’t it? But more is coming…. You can have your word pronounced and if you type a name , say Christina for example, it gives you its meaning (follower of Christ) and its origin, among other things. But what I like best about this dictionary  is that you can get Example Sentences where your word will be used in context, and this is something I really appreciate as I’m not a morning person and sometimes when I need to prepare a lesson in the morning I spend an awful lot of time, time I don’t have , looking for the right sentence to exemplify meaning.

So, definitely, WordHippo will be among my favourite dictionaries this year.

Shahi: a Cool Visual Dictionary

I’ve just found the perfect dictionary for my classes. It’s been love at first sight!!!

Did you know that we learn 10% of what we read; 20% of what we hear; 30% of what we see ???Oh my goodness ! and I wonder why my students seem to have forgotten everything they have learned during the whole year over their summer holidays!

The good news is that the combination of what we read,hear, see and discuss reaches 70%  and that’s my point with this dictionary. Shahi is a cool visual dictionary. You just type the word you need to know  and Shahi combines the definition for that word with images from Flikr, Google or Yahoo on the side bar. No more struggling when trying to explain what a rattlesnake or an anteater  is, just show them!!!.

And remember ” A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

A Cool Dictionary: Vocabulary.com

I just love this dictionary! Really ! I love it!  ♥ It’s one of those sites that is worth bookmarking. Have I mentioned it’s called Vocabulary.com?


You might be asking yourselves why all this enthusiasm over a simple dictionary but it’s just that when you see something that is really helpful not only to me, as a teacher, but also to students, you get all cheered up.

Why do I like it?
First it has The Challenge Section where you are posed questions about vocabulary and you are given points every time you answer correctly. Better to try it than to explain it! You can also compete against other people if you sign up.


Secondly, it has The Dictionary itself. If you sign up whenever you look up a word, you can add it to your learning queue. Each vocabulary word includes a short blurb that is easy to understand and fun to read. The dictionary also provides usage examples from real life, so you can see how words are used in context .

Third, The Vocabulary List . You can create your own list of words you need to revise and then do different activities to help you remember them. One of them includes audio.

Now, aren’t you dying to give it a go? Yes? Off you go!

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Just the Word – more than a Thesaurus

Just The Word is more than an online dictionary or a thesaurus. It’s just the kind of help you need when you are writing.
Type a word into the box and JustTheWord will give you a detailed description of the company which that word keeps in modern-day English.

or help you find the information you need.In the right-hand frame you’ll find the parts of speech and the types of relation that the word is found in. If you’re looking for the right adjective to modify a noun you’ve chosen, click on the ‘ADJ mod <word>’ link. If you want a verb with the noun as its object, follow the ‘V obj <word>’ link.

Let’s imagine that you are not sure if you can say VERY MAGNIFICENT , just type the two words and click on enter. You’ll get the picture below ,where the red bar indicates that the combination is wrong and offers you alternatives.

These are some of the things you can do to get you started with Just the Word.

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