I’ve recently found the website Wordnik, which I would struggle just to call an online dictionary. It not only collects definitions from well-known dictionaries, but it provides example phrases and sentences (including online publications, blogs, and tweets), pronunciations, tags, statistics, and a strong user-generated component. It even gives you the potential Scrabble score (if it is a valid Scrabble word). People can create lists of words based around themes, so if you look up a word, you can immediately see what other words and phrases it is commonly found with. There is also a pretty well-used comments feature.
For example, I clicked random word, and got raptured. Raptured, meaning in a state of rapture, has a Scrabble score of 11, was most popular in the early 1800s (and the present, possibly because of religious connotations), and has one related photo on Flickr.
For prescriptivists, Wordnik‘s resident pronunciation specialist (or orthoepist) provides his own pronunciations for nearly 1800 words (to date), and for descriptivists, any member of the site can upload their own audio. Edit: if you’d like orthoepist Charles Harrington Elster to pronounce something for you, add your word to The Request Line.
For the average dictionary user, this may be far too much information, but for those of us who are interested in seeing how language is used today (and how it was used in the past), this is a wonderful resource. I’d be interested to see if the concept will be extended to other languages, as well.
Check out the Zeitgeist to see what’s happening on the site. As of today:
Wordnik is billions of words, 828,852,001 example sentences, 6,458,204 unique words, 209,445 comments, 146,866 tags, 76,745 pronunciations, 46,119 favorites and 864,672 words in 27,830 lists created by 60,337 Wordniks.