SnappyWords Offers Visual Snap To Your Writing

Yet another cool writing tool, this one with a great deal of visual panache, SnappyWords (link here) is a free, online dictionary with a twist. Enter your desired word and get the word, and its synonyms and antonyms in a floating image. Hover over any of the  words and get the definition. A thesaurus and dictionary wrapped up into one graphic interface.

Once the words branch off the main query, you can double click a node to find other related words. Then, place the mouse cursor over a word to view the meaning, double click a node from the branch to view other related words, scroll the mouse wheel over words to zoom in or out. Click and drag a word or branch to move it around and explore other branches. Check it out – it’s a lot of fun. Plus it is a great resource to help you vary your written language in posts, articles, briefs, memos and papers.
Snappy Words queries the WordNet lexical database developed by Princeton University for students and language researchers. According to the site, “this dictionary groups synonyms into synsets through lexical relations between terms.” Uh huh. What it really means is that word meanings and semantic relationships are revealed graphically for your viewing pleasure. In a word: “cool.”
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Grammar On The iPad

Grammar. It’s cool. And now it’s high tech, with a new iPad app. Terminology for iPad offers that “special something” for your writing just in time for the start of the school year. The app contains a searchable dictionary and thesaurus. They can be used off-line, in case you can’t hook into the ‘net for your word fix. But, if you do have Web access, you can find additional information on your desired word or phrase via Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Mark your favorite words for fast future searching. Best of all, the interface is simple and clean, making your lexicographically-inclined pursuits that much easier. Tighten up your next brief, business report, email or term paper, or simply pull out a killer word out for Scrabble or Words with Friends with Terminology.

Oxford’s Word Of The Year

I’ve heard of Nobels, Pulitzers, Oscars, Grammies, Emmies and Tonys. But what’ s this? An Oxie?

The New Oxford American Dictionary has just announced its Word of the Year. Who knew? And guess what? The new word has to do with technology and social networking! Apparently, social media is on the minds of staid old dictionary publishers too.

The “Oxie” is presented to the 2009 WotY winner  — “unfriend.”

“Unfriend” is a verb. It means to remove someone as a friend on a social networking site. This is to be distinguished from “unfollow” which means to stop subscribing to someone’ s posts on a blog, microblog or aggregation site. “Unfriend” is deeper-rooted. It suggests the severing of a more meaningful connection, such as can be found in places like Facebook and MySpace.

Senior Lexicographer at Oxford U.S. Christine Lindberg explains the choice:

“It has both currency and potential longevity…. In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

“Lex-appeal?” Now why didn’t that word make the cut?

You might be interested in some of the runners-up. Here they are, by category:

Technology

hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle

netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone

Economy

freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

Ardi(Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate

choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother

death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

teabagger -a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)

Environment

brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

deleb – a dead celebrity

tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Check out the Oxford post here. And Hat Tip to Resource Shelf.

Oxford's Word Of The Year

I’ve heard of Nobels, Pulitzers, Oscars, Grammies, Emmies and Tonys. But what’ s this? An Oxie?

The New Oxford American Dictionary has just announced its Word of the Year. Who knew? And guess what? The new word has to do with technology and social networking! Apparently, social media is on the minds of staid old dictionary publishers too.

The “Oxie” is presented to the 2009 WotY winner  — “unfriend.”

“Unfriend” is a verb. It means to remove someone as a friend on a social networking site. This is to be distinguished from “unfollow” which means to stop subscribing to someone’ s posts on a blog, microblog or aggregation site. “Unfriend” is deeper-rooted. It suggests the severing of a more meaningful connection, such as can be found in places like Facebook and MySpace.

Senior Lexicographer at Oxford U.S. Christine Lindberg explains the choice:

“It has both currency and potential longevity…. In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

“Lex-appeal?” Now why didn’t that word make the cut?

You might be interested in some of the runners-up. Here they are, by category:

Technology

hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle

netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone

Economy

freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

Ardi(Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate

choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother

death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

teabagger -a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)

Environment

brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

deleb – a dead celebrity

tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Check out the Oxford post here. And Hat Tip to Resource Shelf.

What Else Can Google Do For You? Replace Your Dictionary!

Well, not quite. But it seems the traditional dictionary is sorely in need of replacing. Outdated, insufficient and lacking context, more and more wordsmiths are eschewing the traditional lexicographical sources for on-line help.

Julia Angwin at the Wall Street Journal points out the flaws of the traditional method here. Angwin opines that Google has become “our database of meaning” and that the traditional sources – Merriam Webster, Oxford English, American Heritage – have become obsolete.

It sounds a bit fantastical to be asserting that the mish-mash of Google information is somehow more valid and usable than the carefully curated lists compiled by expert lexicographers at the publishing houses.  However, a Google search will yield a quick list of definitions from on-line dictionaries and links to examples using the term in context. In other words, you can quickly search out the background information lexicographers themselves use when compiling dictionaries.

Angwin points out the biggest hurdles dictionaries face in remaining relevant in the world of Google:  lack of usage examples, infrequent updates and space constraints. Google has none of these drawbacks. However, there also is a sometimes obvious lack of curatorship on-line, which can lead a researcher astray with out-of-date definitions and incomplete entries.

Angwin presents a third option that somewhat addresses the shortcomings of both traditional dictionaries and Google. Wordnik is an on-line resource started by the former editor-in-chief of the Oxford American Dictionary. Wordnik currently contains more than 1.7 million words and more than 130 million examples of word usage. Wordnik relies on the American Heritage Dictionary  of the English Language, Fourth Edition and Roget’s II, The New Thesaurus Third Edition, so Wordnik, in some ways, is no better than these original sources. Wordnik does equip the resource with lots of sample sentences, providing a better sense than traditional sources provide of proper usage .  Wordnik also is attempting to update its database more frequently than traditional resources, offering new words, definitions and usages as they become available.  Wordnik adds other information for words, such as related words, images, statistics, audio pronunciation, and user-contributed data.

Best of all, Wordnik is free, and not the nearly $300 per year on-line subscription price for the OED.

Another on-line resource to enhance your research experience!