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I am bit of a word freak. Yes, that’s being a logophile. You can also call me a ‘verbivore’. No we aren’t mutants or the X-Men, but we exist as defined by language writer Richard Lederer. I am sure it is a large species in itself if the number of online dictionaries is anything to go by these days. I have written about some of them myself. But what confirms the existence of this is that word lovers have taken their love for the lexical and brought it to Twitter of all places.
You might think that 140 characters just doesn’t cut it when you have to pick a word apart, and get to its meaning and usage. But let’s leave some room for surprises because Twitter and the Twitter dictionaries bring real-timeliness into learning new words. Here are a few usual and a few unusual dictionaries on Twitter. Follow them and wax lexical.
The Usual Suspects
Think of this as a mashup of Twitter and Wikipedia. The mother website was down so I couldn’t go into their origins, but I do know that it was launched by Ben Huh and the team behind I Can Has Cheezburger? The word definitions are on the humorous side and just made me think that most of them could be user contributed.
pellucid : transparently clear; easily understandable;usage : Colorful pebbles could be seen on the floor of the pellucid brook;
— Mnemonic Dictionary (@wordtoday) October 3, 2012
Mnemonics is about remembering things by forming associations. That’s always useful when you are sitting for intensive vocabulary tests like GRE and SAT. The Twitter account looks into the meaning and gives you a memory cue with an example. You might have to click through to the main website via the shortened URL to get to the mnemonic.
terpsichorean: adjective: Of or relating to dancing; noun: A dancer. wordsmith.org/words/terpsich…
— A.Word.A.Day (@awad) October 3, 2012
We get a bit more serious here with A Word a Day which comes to us from the well-known Wordsmith.org. If you are a fan of their mailers, then there’s no reason not to follow A Word a Day on Twitter. Going to the main Wordsmith site to read up the complete etymology should be the hallmark of a self-respecting logophile. They complement it with a thought for the day.
Word of the Day – tardigrade: slow in pace or movement. bit.ly/VyXT5B
— Dictionary (@wordexplorer) October 7, 2012
If you get to keep just one dictionary site at gunpoint, then this has to be it. From a thesaurus to word games, Dictionary.com covers a lot of ground and words of course. The Twitter account is just a mirror to its exhaustive coverage for the guy who wants to learn more about the English language.
— wordnik (@wordnik) October 8, 2012
I learnt that the smooth space between the eyebrows is called ‘glabella’. While I won’t be using this word anytime soon, it just gave me an insight into the spread of words on the Wordnik site and the highlights on the Twitter account. Try out the website too for a quick and minimal vocabulary enriching search.
The Unusual Suspects
In case you missed it earlier, today’s word is: “Tapir”. Definition here – artwiculate.com
— artwiculate (@artwiculate) October 8, 2012
Artwiculate crosses over to edutainment with its learn-a-word-a-day game on Twitter. You just have to follow @artwiculate to start playing. The more the retweets, more is the popularity of the word. We mentioned Artwiculate when we looked at 10 Real Time Twitter Games You Can Enjoy With Just A Tweet.
Bacon Wrap – A) Verb. To take something that is already in a positive state of being and then elevate it to … – urbanup.com/6777864
— Urban Dictionary (@urbandictionary) October 8, 2012
You really cannot compile a list of online dictionaries without listing Urban Dictionary and here, its Twitter page. With 60,000+ followers it can even make the triumvirate of Oxford, Cambridge, and Webster go wordless with envy. When you consider that the street dictionary of our times is choc-a-bloc with colloquialisms and urban-speak.
Tomato firmware: Webopedia term of the day: Tomato firmware bit.ly/O4aXrL
— Webopedia.com (@WebopediaTech) September 9, 2012
An article on a tech blog can hardly go without the mention of a dictionary on tech terms. All words, phrases and abbreviations here are related to computer and Internet technology. The definitions are explained on the main site but it is a worthwhile hop because the web page also lists related terms to the one you are trying to learn.
Tips for using the word “conceptualize” when writing your resume: resumedictionary.com/conceptualize/
— Resume Dictionary (@resumewords) June 7, 2012
This is niche but it could be a Twitter account worth following for the guy who is always on the job market. Resumes need power words and the Twitter account is a shortcut to the website where the words are explained in more detail. It is about what to do and what not to do in your resume, and how to strike the right chord with the interviewer.
The one advantage of following a Twitter account from the above list is that it helps to make your vocabulary training an automatic habit. Tweets may be ‘blink and you miss’ sometimes, but I have often found that interesting words somehow get stuck to the sub-conscious. I have had less luck (and less fun) with retaining new words than I have had with what I call accidental learning via Twitter. What’s the good word from you on these Twitter dictionaries? Do you have one on your list? Have I missed a great one on mine?
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