Site-seers;Web sites

12th June 1998 at 01:00
WWWebster Dictionary www.m-w.comdictionary.htm

Non-Internet users might scoff at the idea of using an online dictionary, even one from such a distinguished source as Merriam-Webster.

The book, they could argue, is surely a more convenient resource, easier on the eye, and not dependent on pound;1,000 worth of hardware and an electricity supply.

Yes, yes, and yes - but. If you're working on a computer and need to consult a dictionary, this is one of the best. It is remarkably fast, it is as compendious and learned as the 190-year-old Webster's dictionary on which it is based. It is always up to date, and recognises British as well as American spellings.

And there is more: lurking behind the highly functional search page is a multitude of resources. There's a Thesaurus, as fast and exhaustive as the dictionary; there are word games, "word of the day" and "cool words of the month" features. There's a section on "American youth slang", and another on Shakespeare's English. There are essays on the history of the language, and on lexicography.


The venerable animal charity shows itself to be well up to speed on electronic communications.

From this attractive web site we learn that when the SPCA was formed in1824 (the royal R wasn't added until 1840) it was the first law enforcement agency in the UK, pre-dating the police by two years.

Not that the site dwells on history: much of it is devoted to its current campaigns against fox hunting, puppy farms, battery hens, and so on. For teachers, there's a list of ways to bring animals into the national curriculum.

While young children will enjoy the quizzes and other fun activities, their slightly older brothers and sisters will find copious ammunition for attacking animal-unfriendly adults.

Bill Hicks

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