137

To prevent myself from asking an obvious, silly question multiple times: What are the English language tools you found most useful?

I found Corpus Concordance English extremely useful for looking up collocations.

Please, one tool per answer.

6
  • 18
    Mod note: This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. Ordinarily, we would lock such a question; however, because allowing the answers to be edited and voted on greatly enhances its value, we have chosen not to do so. Please do not vote to reopen or delete this question; such actions will be reversed. – waiwai933 Sep 17 '12 at 0:54
  • 1
    More organized list on meta: List of general references. – Andrew Grimm Jan 6 '13 at 7:34
  • 1
    This chrome plugin is very useful. It's a good way to collect words. FlashRead : chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/flashread/… – jackie Jan 26 '16 at 6:35
  • I'm not sure why this isn't on Meta. Wasn't this on Meta? – Kit Z. Fox Aug 22 '16 at 22:23
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it would have a good home on Meta but is much too old to migrate it there. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 22 '16 at 22:25

41 Answers 41

1
2
4

Acronym finder

A website that provides the definitions of acronyms.

4

Google Books is useful for searching for real usage and etymology of words and phrases, and for antecedents.

However, care must be taken with metadata, especially when only a snippet is shown: occasionally the book was published later than the the year Google claims it was, and sometimes they accidentally include multiple books for each record.

Therefore it's important to double check the date: scroll up to confirm the real date for "full view" books, and for preview/"snippet view" verify with another source (such as the Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg).

3

I'm an English as a Second/Foreign Language teacher, and I like to use the Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

It has different levels of definitions from Learner's (which used to be basic or beginner) to Advanced Learner's.

I find it's not only helpful for me when I need to find a way to define a word for a student, but it also helps me understand words I may have never seen before or don't often use. They also have some mobile apps for English students, and a blog that posts about new words in English like lactivism and lets you comment about them.

3

Chambers Dictionary, famous for its humorous definitions.

2

Acrogen

An acronym generator generates acronyms from sets of words.

2

The Internet Archive's Text Archive has old books and journals in many formats, including plain text and scanned. Useful for confirming things only available as snippets in Google Books.

2

manythings.org is an online "dictionary" which can help you memorize words which are listed according to their frequency.

2

Microsoft Word's spelling checker

But be careful with its grammar checker: it’s often wrong.

3
  • 3
    I don't know how many times this has saved me from writing "teh..." – kitukwfyer Sep 11 '10 at 14:15
  • 11
    Being from a field of science with specialized language, it is a challenge to use, even if I train it on my own computer – David LeBauer Dec 2 '10 at 15:12
  • 3
    Be careful! The grammar checker is a useful tool to spot slips, but do not treat it as an authority. – Pitarou Feb 6 '12 at 15:18
1

Word Dynamo

Word Dynamo from Dictionary.com is a nice way to learn new vocabulary. It has flashcard sets of a variety of different topics.

1

The Usenet archive at Google Groups is useful for searching for Internet slang dating back to 1981.

Be careful as there's no way to search only Usenet, and some of the non-Usenet results are misdated, but it can sometimes be useful.

2
  • If you can't search 'only' Usenet, then how can you use it as a resource except through google, and then only if you're lucky enough to get results from Usenet? – Mitch Feb 28 '12 at 14:09
  • @Mitch: Most of the older results are only Usenet, and you can tell from the summary page if the results are from alt.fan.this or comp.that. – Hugo Feb 28 '12 at 14:27
1
2

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.