Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Visual Dictionary for Visual Learners

I certainly appreciate the convenience of finding word definitions online. However, I have found that images can frequently add to understanding new terms. Merriam-Webster has an online dictionary which provides both definitions and images.

The Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online provides images, text, and even audio to pronounce the term being defined. You can search for an individual word or work your way to the term you want by clicking on one of the categories (called themes).

Fifteen themes are available: astronomy, earth, plants and gardening, animal kingdom, human being, food and kitchen, house, clothing and articles, arts and architecture, communications, transport and machinery, energy, science, society, and sports and games. Within these themes there are 20,000 terms and 6,000 full-color images. The terminology is accurate in up to six languages.

My search for cat yielded these subtopics: cat breeds, cat’s head, and morphology of a cat, all with images.

Here's the image and terms yielded for cat breeds...
(click to see the whole image)
cat breeds - Visual Dictionary Online
This image is from

Here's the information about tectonic plates...
(click to see the whole image)
tectonic plates - Visual Dictionary Online
This image is from

Paul Hamilton (Free Resources from the Net for (Special) Education) comments that this visual dictionary is "especially valuable for individuals who are primarily visual learners" and the fact that he includes it on his blog indicates that he thinks it’s good for special education students.

A weekly game is available. I played a game in which I matched terms with images around the idea of Mardi Gras costumes. I answered 8 of 10 correctly… I never heard of most of the terms!

A blog tools area is “under construction."

If you want to use the dictionary in other languages, you can purchase them and a CD version of the dictionary. With the additional languages, that would make the dictionary useful for foreign languages, too.

The Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online appears to be a good tool with a variety of uses.

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