What do you think of the Macmillan Dictionary gadget on the right? It provides definitions in English and sample sentences to see the words used in another context. You can even listen to them. If a word you look up is a “red” word, you’ll know it’s one of just 7,500 words that speakers of English use 90% of the time in speech and writing. If it’s a “black” word, it’s a little more rare – but perhaps it’s worth adding to your personal vocabulary “treasure chest”.
Actually, I’m a little confused myself by a word here: I thought a little tool like this was called a “widget”. But look that up in the Macmillan Dictionary and you’ll find that a “widget” is “a small object or piece of equipment that you do not know the name of.” Google calls these tools “gadgets”, the term we use for fun little technical devices that help us while away the hours. (Go ahead, look up “while away”!) So the language is changing. Let’s see how well Macmillan keeps up. They’re looking good: They’ve got “mPulse – Living language”, “Open Dictionary” (user generated definitions) and a “Word of the day” on their nice website www.macmillandictionary.com. – OK, I’m sold on it!