Word Choice – Dictionaries

BizWritingTip reader: “You always mention about having an up-to-date dictionary. Can you please tell us if there is any up-to-date internet dictionary that we can refer to?”

BizWritingTip response: I prefer a hard copy dictionary because in looking up one word I often glance at surrounding words and in helps to keep my English “fresh.” (Online dictionaries seldom show other words.) And I just like the feel of paper. My favourite source is the Oxford Canadian Dictionary.

But I realize my views on this topic may now be passé so I decided to search for a good, online source I could recommend.

There are a number of sites to choose from. However, there is a cost associated with some of them, and other sites require that you download the dictionary itself – which I am loath to do.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary site at www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary is also good. Although it is not a Canadian source, the dictionary did not reject the Canadian spelling of certain words. For example, it accepted both travelling and traveling. (Doubling the “l” in words with a suffix is a Canadian thing.)

I would love to hear from any readers who have a favourite source they may want to pass along. It must be free, easy to access, and preferably Canadian. Remember we are looking for more than a site that just provides synonyms. We want to be able to understand the meaning of word, its pronunciation, and its usage.

By the way, when carrying out this research I found an October 3 news release announcing that the entire staff of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary has been laid off because of declining sales.

Apparently, the company will continue to publish the Canadian Oxford Dictionary with the assistance of Canadian freelancers and the lexicography department in Oxford, England.

Yes, I must definitely get with the times.

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