Dictionary vs. Dictionary.com

By on

There's so much information that the Internet can give us. I can look up whatever I want at anytime as long as I have WiFi or 3G. I don't have to wait until I'm near an encyclopedia or a computer anymore.

I remember looking up words for my word study class in elementary school. I would learn random words along the way. I learned the word "contortionist" while I was looking up another word that started with C because there was a picture of one that caught my eye. dictionary.com doesn't provide that opportunity, but it provides me with what I want to know at the exact time I want it. When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher made it mandatory for us to use a printed dictionary and not an online one.

So while online dictionaries help us learn because we can look up more words in less time before we forget that we wanted to look up the word, it also blocks out some of the other things we can learn from using printed dictionaries. There's also no way for a printed dictionary to be unreliable, like Urban Dictionary, or for it to be covered with distracting spam that does nothing for your brain. The downside to printed dictionaries is that they can quickly become outdated.

Urban Dictionary
Urban Dictionary


The other side of this is that we choose what we want to read in print, but not always what we read online. For example, sometimes I feel like posts like these make me dumber, and I don't exactly go looking for it. I feel bad for the people who don't know that they made spelling errors before they're broadcasted to the world, but I also feel bad for the people who are connected to them on social media who don't know that these are errors.


ald_3's picture

Christine, I've gotta admit I

Christine, I've gotta admit I just got a serious laugh out of the "32 Dumbest Things" link (I think my personal favorite is the one about there being a "hashtag" on a cell phone from the 90s, pre-Twitter...just wow). But, I really like that your post discussed the distinction between online and print sources. In a lot of ways, it seems like print sources are still considered the most credible. I liked how Thompson talked about Wikipedia in these chapters and how many Wiki pages are becoming just as credible as traditional encyclopedia entries - which is awesome for those of us who have been using it as a starting point for research for years. Maybe one day it won't get such a bad rap in the academic world, especially as more and more research gets conducted online. Thanks for sharing your insights!

clscott's picture

I like how you bring up

I like how you bring up Wikipedia. Every time I want to learn about something, I go to Wikipedia. Seriously, who posts stuff on Wikipedia if they aren't positive that it's true? And you're right, it's a good starting point if you want to be directed to the sources that were used in that article.

ckozma's picture

I think that you are right

I think that you are right with more and more information and research online I think that online sources are becoming more credible. When you think of online sources, things like the O.E.D. and Google scholars don't pop into your head, I think that we could see a shift in the near future of online sources getting the credit that they deserve.

clscott's picture

Like we've talked about in

Like we've talked about in this class, it's hard to drag around a dictionary, and why would you if you can access one online for no additional cost? It's the same content, but you don't learn from looking past other definitions like you would in a hard copy of a dictionary.