In a time when every word processing program has a spell-check feature (and some have a grammar check too) and a Google search seems to be able to find you almost any piece of information you are looking for you might wonder why the world still needs dictionaries, whether they are the old fashioned kind – a big book filled with tiny words – or the newer generation of online dictionaries. The fact is though there are a number of very good reasons to still use a dictionary. Here are just a few of them:
Alternate Meanings: While surfing the web you may come across a word you are familiar with but the use of it in the text you are reading does not quite make sense. Take the word “bubble” for example. To you the word means little round thing that can be popped in an instant. So why would a financial article keep using the word? Surely Wall Street traders don’t go around blowing bubbles at each other on the trading floor?
Google will usually not be of much help either as it will naturally “think” of the literal meaning of the word as well. However if you look in a dictionary, which offers all of the alternate meanings a word might have you will find that bubble can also mean “..a speculative venture that has little chance of making a profit” and you will then understand just what the author is really talking about!
Translation: Google Translate and other tools like it are handy things but they are not always very accurate. Using a dictionary to translate a word from one language to another will offer you all the meanings a word has and some guidance as to the proper use of the words in certain situations.
Spellings: Technically people in the US and the UK speak the same language – English – but often the spelling they use is quite different. For example in the US you might use the word theater to describe a place where live entertainment is staged. They would in the UK as well, except they would spell it theatre. There are lots more examples – center and centre, color and colour, labor and labour are just a few. A dictionary can help you get these spellings correct for the country you are addressing, something that a spell checker will not as they are set to check only in one form of the language.
These are just a few of the uses for a dictionary that are still very relevant today, there are many more. We have a great many different dictionaries listed here, so you are sure to be able to find at least one or two that can be useful to you on a regular basis.