Words, phrases and definitions are a writer’s work tools. The tool box comes in many sizes and varieties. This article is about on-line web sources for writers. The sources mentioned in this article are no charge to the user. There are some common sources you may be familiar with already. Others are ones I have heard about that may be new to you.
Some of the sources apply to specific fields, like medical and legal. Others provide links to other sources. Some provide synonyms and antonyms. These sources are like a Sears Craftsman’s Tool Box filled with tried and reliable tools for writers.
This new beta version glossary provides definitions and alternate uses of words and phrases for over two million words, terms, phrases and acronyms. The great feature is the flexibility of the site. It comes up with citations that cross over disciplines. As an example: I typed in the word, “corrupt.” The first part of the search results relates to data. It is Internet technology term. It defines corrupt as being “data which has been altered.”
MetaGlossary then goes on to provide examples and links to web sites that are used as their source. It also provides keywords; Alterations and Errors. Next, MetaGlossary provides the general use of the word, “corrupt.” The general use of the word is to, “destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of.” The key words are; Subvert, Integrity, Moral, Young. There are links to alternate uses of the word.
This resource is perfect for anyone who needs a quick check on the definition of a legal term or phrase that most dictionaries may not contain. Many legal terms are Latin in derivation others may be from Old English law which came across the Atlantic and were Incorporated into our American legal system. Law dot com allows you to type in the word or phrase and search for the exact definition of the word or phrase. As an example; res ipsa loquitur is a term used in many personal injury cases or in discussions of evidence.
The term means; “the thing speaks for itself.” In application, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur means that one is presumed to be negligent if she had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury, even though there is no evidence of an act of evidence, and without negligent the accident would not have happened. Law.com then goes on to provide examples of the application of the term and doctrine “res ipsa loquitur.”
An example given by law dot com is the classic case of a pedestrian walking by a building under construction by Company X. A pile of bricks under the control of Company X dislodges and hits pedestrian on the head. The pedestrian is injured severely. The pedestrian does not have to prove which person made the error. The company is liable for negligence under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
While this journal is not a dictionary or a glossary it is a valuable resource for information about current cases and articles on subjects as varied as racial discrimination, disability discrimination, and gay rights. It has current stories and links to lawyers in almost all states that practice law involving these subjects. If you are looking for a topical resource for writing about the current status of civil rights, minority law dot com will give you the very latest developments.
I have used various on-line medical dictionaries in my work as an editor. In the work place Stedman’s Medical Dictionary is almost universally the most accepted medical term source. It is a subscription service and the new CD Rom spell checker costs around $100. For writers who simply want an easy method of checking definitions, the newly created Miriam Webster Medical Dictionary previously run by MedlinePlus will do fine. The on-line http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mplusdictionary.html is a fine resource. As an example; I typed in the abbreviation you may see on a prescription,qid. Translated from the Latin, qid means “quarter in die.” The English translation is four time a day.
The glossary site for an array of engineering terms is provided by http://www.maxim-ic.com/glossary. This web site is ideal for writers who may be called upon to write a technical article for mechanics, and engineers or product descriptions. It has an extensive data base. As an example I was asked to write something on the term FM.
According to the engineering glossary, a frequency modulation means a modulation method in which the carrier frequency changes with the input signal amplitude. The glossary is equipped to address, a large number of engineering terms that may come up for writers asked to write freelance articles on technical subjects.
Language Dictionary and Translator:
One of the most comprehensive web-site sources for languages is yourdictionary.com. If you are looking for a quick translation of words in the more than 200 languages on the site it is available. One source that is one I have used is the Native American language section. A unique feature is the 1945 Navajo Code Talker’s Dictionary.
The site has all the words and phrases used by the famous World War 11 Navajo code specialist that were virtually unbreakable by enemy forces. The Navajo Code Talker’s Dictionary, http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq61-4.html is among other Native American language on the web site.
Your Dictionary dot com has numerous other translations of African, Indian, and other languages that you may run into as a writer. Sometimes a quick translation is all you need. If you need to translate more than one word or sentence you may want to look at bablefish.altavista.com. I have found this translator tool is better than most other translator pages for Russian, Chinese and French.
Sports Terms and Phrases:
If you are writing an article about American football, About has a great glossary of terms. It provides a link to the definition and some articles on the subject. As an example if you click on the term “pass interference,” you will get the definition as well as a short description about how the pass interference occurs and a useful definition. http://football.about.com/od/football101/l/bl_glossary.html.
If you are a Nascar fan, there is a useful web site called the Nascar Dictionary, www.net-racing.com. As an example the “apron,” is the inside portion of the track, on an oval track the apron is the very bottom. If you are writing an article on car racing this web site will give you the insiders definition of terms you may hear while you are watching the race.
The Basketball Referee’s glossary and dictionary has one of the best quick searches for terms that apply to basketball. The dictionary is very easy to navigate and the definitions are succinct and understandable. It is designed as a quick search for novice fan, coach, referee and player. It is not a rule book. It defines the terms and gives links to other standard definitions. The Basketball Referee is sponsored by Geocities. The link is here: http://www.geocities.com/oz_referee/glossary.htm
All of these resources are ones you would not readily find in your on-line dictionary. It also adds some words and phrases that you can add to your word check if you are writing for a trade that has unique words. This list will assist people who write for a living as freelancers or employment where correctness of words is important.