There are plenty of dictionary services available online, and most of them are free for at least the basic features and get the job done. Today we are going to take a look at “The Free Dictionary” which is yet another free dictionary, accept they offer more than the average service like dictionary.com offers. Not only do they offer a regular dictionary/thesaurus, but they also offer several other types of dictionaries and encyclopedias as well which we’ll explain below. And if you consider yourself a word guru, meaning you like games that revolve around words like Scrabble, they offer that as well.
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias Offered
Of course you’d expect a site called The Free Dictionary to have a dictionary, which they do, but they also have additional dictionaries including:
- Medical dictionary
- Legal dictionary
- Financial dictionary
Words and definitions included with the medical dictionary come from The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary and a few others good sources. It includes over 45,000 different entries. The Legal dictionary, of course, has all of the words you’ve ever wanted to know when it comes to the law, and these entries come from The People’s Law Dictionary. Like the others, the financial dictionary is specific in what it offers with more than 5,000 definitions specific to the financial world like annuity, futures, reverse mortgage, and more.
As far as encyclopedia’s go, the entries they provide come from numerous different sources like the Columbia Encyclopedia. In all, there are over 80,000 different terms that can be looked up. If you’re just browsing, they give you a snapshot of the popular articles from the dictionary that people have recently looked at. Additionally, you can perform a Wikipedia search right from TFD site.
If the dictionaries aren’t enough, they also offer an acronym lookup as well as idioms lookup. If you’ve got an acronym that you’re not sure what it stands for, just type it in and you’ll get a list of results. When I typed the acronym “LOL” a whole list of meanings were displayed with “laugh out load” and “Labor of love” topping the list. There’s also an idioms look-up that can explain over 7,000 idioms from countries like Britain, the United States, and Australian English.
Add-ons and Extras
To make the service even better, they offer a few add-ons and extras. One such add-on is the “right-click” browser add-on which is offered for Internet Explorer and Firefox. If you were to come across a word while you’re browsing the Internet that you didn’t know the definition of, you could right-click and one of the options would be “dictionary” or “search dictionary for __.”
Other add-ons and extras include:
- Desktop Assistant for Windows (get definitions for words in your desktop applications)
- Google Toolbar – add The Free Dictionary to your Google toolbar
- Add The Free Dictionary to “My Yahoo!”
- This isn’t exactly an add-on, but what is nice is that you can have them pronounce the word for you. Some sites like Dictionary.com have this feature, but you have to pay to get a premium account if you want to hear a word pronounced.
Customize your Page
I don’t know that you’ll be using The Free Dictionary enough to make customizing the page worth it, but keep this in mind as something you are able to do if you want to. You can add, remove, drag and drop the different elements of TFD so it’s set up just the way you’d like it to be. You can also view weather info, your bookmarks, and RSS feeds, right from the page.
Features of TFD
When you go to the site for the first time, you’ll see several things already there and ready for you to use which I will list below.
- Article of the Day
- Match Up – Game where you match each word from the left column with its synonym on the right.
- Quotation of the Day
- In the News – an article that’s currently in the news
- This Day in History – a quick blurb about something that happened this day in a previous year
- Horoscope – enter in your birth date to get your daily horoscope
- Today’s Birthday – what famous people have a birthday today?
- Spelling Bee – You hear a word, and then you must spell it (varying degrees of difficulty)
- Hangman – the classic game
I know that there are several dictionary services out there that you’re probably familiar with and use regularly, but I really do recommend taking a peak at what’s offered over at The Free Dictionary. They offer more than just the typical dictionary and include a lot of extras which could potentially come in handy.