Review :: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

About the Source

Title: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Publication Date: 2018
Producer: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated



Merriam-Webster is a well-known, reputable publisher of reference material including standard dictionaries, Scrabble dictionaries, and language dictionaries. Contributing authors are not specifically listed per word entry, but they are specifically noted in other features of the website including the “Ask the Editors” section. Here professional lexicographers are acknowledged. Merriam-Webster’s credibility is widely accepted.


The web-based publication includes a wide breadth of information beyond basic definitions one might expect from a dictionary. Other features include: a Word of the Day, word related interactive quizzes, multimedia content, editorials, word games, popular words searched, social media links, and streaming podcast content. Search results include: a recording of the pronunciation of the word, ranking of the frequency of the word searched, the date that the entry was updated, a synonym guide, examples of the word usage in a sentence, multiple definitions ranked by relevance, recent usage of the word from the web, origin and etymology, discussion of related words and synonyms, specialized definitions for English language learners and children, links to definitions on other sources, and user comments.


The search box is featured prominently at the top of the page. Below this, additional content is featured beginning with featured editorials, followed by quizzes and trending searches. Below this are videos, word games, editor’s picks (with some repeated content), popular searches, links to Merriam-Webster content on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The footer bar on the site includes links to other Merriam-Webster web content and a form to subscribe to the Word of the Day newsletter. Additionally, there are links to browse the dictionary by letter, contact information, the privacy policy and terms of use. There is a significant amount of advertising nestled within each section of the site. It is designed to be subtle and seemless in the overall design of the site, but there are three advertising bars linking to outside sources, not including advertisements for Merriam-Webster content (applications and subscriptions).


This is a very useful resource with impressive recall. The depth of recall for each search term along with the advertising make it more appropriate for users over the age of 12, who might have more experience navigating through data rich environments, and who might be more savvy about avoiding advertising and links to outside sources. Merriam-Webster’s Word Central might be better suited to younger users. The site is particularly well-suited to users who enjoy tinkering with language beyond searching for definitions.


Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash

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