LTL DICTIONARIES: resembling snow

LTL DICTIONARIES: resembling snow

My Go To Dictionaries

The dictionary I like the most is the one that is to hand when I want to look something up. But dictionaries are more than just a reference book for word meanings, they also reveal lots of random facts and other information about our languages, and the places we live. So adding it all up, I’ve come up with a total of five dictionaries that are welcome on my shelf or toolbar.

Number 1

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English


I put the Longman Dictionary of contemporary English at the top of my ‘go to’ list because I use the paper copy at home and the online version everywhere else. I also like the way that the Longman shows word frequency as well as the meaning. Words that get used A LOT in English are marked as S1, S2 and S3 (in the top 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 most frequently used words of SPOKEN English) and / or W1, W2 and W3 (top words in WRITTEN English). This is really useful information for teachers and learners and people who write for ESL readers.

Number 2


Like other online dictionaries looks at more than just the meanings of the words. It is great to be able to listen to the word, and read about the word origins, but what I love about is the Word of the Day. I love the Word of the Day, especially if I know it. Today’s word was a classic, I didn’t know it, but now it all makes sense. Niveous, today’s Word of the Day means ‘resembling snow’. I didn’t know that, but now I know why Nivea likes its name.

Number 3

Google and Google Translate

my go to dictionaries

Even though they are ranked at number three (joint) these are the two dictionaries I probably use the most. Google is definitely my preferred spell-checker and Google Translate is useful for navigating friends’ Facebook posts in other languages. The reason that Google is not my go to dictionary site, even though I use it a lot, is because Google is my go to EVERYTHING else site (almost).

Number 4

Collins English Dictionary

collins dictionary


But not just any Collins English dictionary; it has to be a particular edition from the mid-eighties. I bought the Collins because it came with a free encyclopedia (the eighties remember). It turned out that the encyclopedia was rubbish (everything I looked up in it wasn’t there), but the dictionary was golden. A staggering number of head words were either quite odd or inappropriate and often plain rude. I’m going to keep it clean on this blog, but it was fun to snort and chuckle as we read out the headwords to each other. Just like looking up dirty words in the dictionary at primary school, only with pipes and long pants.

Number 5

 Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

my go to dictionaries


I think it is still around. It was mum’s dictionary and the definitive word on Scrabble. In fact, the Chambers was the definitive word on anything. But the 20th Century is gone and the Chambers has had its day in our house. I’m still going to rank it in my top five though, because it was the Chambers that introduced me to dictionaries and the treasures you can find in them.

What are your dictionary memories?

What are the advantages of either online or paper dictionaries?


6 thoughts on “LTL DICTIONARIES: resembling snow

  1. Thanks for this Stephen-Peter.. It’s odd to me that the Oxford has not made it into your list. Maybe it is for specialists or something but to me that is THE hardcopy dictionary. Online I just use the google search and look at the ones on the top…often I look at more than one.

    For teachers like your good self the Longman’s certainly looks useful.

    I use google translate. It can be “quaint” (that is, bizarre) but you can usually puzzle out what is meant.

    For cyrillic (am trying to learn Russian on and off) I also use the google keyboard.

    Your blog is pretty good I reckon and it’s obvious you’ve been thinking about it and preparing for it for a while. I’ve enjoyed most of them. The storytelling one though seemed strange to me and I gave up after a while. The “outline” was weird.

    Have a good one.



    • Hi Steve

      The guy who wrote the original storytelling blog says it is his most viewed post to date. He also got it ‘WordPressed’ (can we use that as a verb? It’s got an ‘ed’ ending, so maybe we can).

      I agree with you about the weird tone, though. That particular writer used loads and loads of low frequency words; instead of doing things ‘quickly’ he ‘zinged’ them, that kind of thing. Anyway, translating all that into high frequency vocabulary meant the tone got a bit lost in the process. I suggest you skip the outline and cut straight to the dos and dont’s or go directly to the original blog post and se what he has to say in his own words.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!


      • Too posh maybe. The OED used murderers to help compile it and that’s not you! I like it because it was the first to incorporate words that weren’t posh in the supplement(s) and used literary examples to mark historical developments. In dictionary terms, even in social life terms, it was a landmark. Frank Sargeson has an entry in the first supplement under “C” (as I recall).

        I’ll try the storytelling one again.


        Liked by 1 person

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