Can’t remember the specific word you’re looking for but you know it exists? Need a synonym, origins of a word, a visual map of words, definitions, modern slang, etc.? Here’s a list of all the coolest online word tools. If I missed something, please share other sources you often return to in the comments.
Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary is great fun and my favorite of the three listed here. You can “look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.”
Word Association Lookup is still visual but with less flare. “The project «Word Associations Network» gives you an opportunity to lookup associations with a given word. Word associations arise in the human’s mind when reading or saying a word, or just thinking about the word.”
wordassociation.org is for those looking for a quick list or table rather than a visual representation of associated words. It “began as an experiment by simon holliday at nameless, and has now become the world’s largest database of word associations.”
Wordorigins.org – want to find some words with interesting origins for inspiration? Check out this site with it’s Big List of over 400 words and phrases. “The words and phrases are selected because their origins are inherently interesting or because some bit of folklore, sometimes true and sometimes false, is associated with the origin.” The site also includes a blog, discussion, and an incredible list of additional resources.
Green’s Dictionary of Slang provides a timeline of use for each word and the country of origin. “The main focus of the dictionary is the coverage of over 500 years of slang from c. 1500 onwards.” Enter the word you’re researching, click Search, and then click the entry in the results you want to know more about to see the timeline and origin for that specific word or compounds including the word.
Online Etymology Dictionary gives a quick snapshot of a word’s history. Sources are not cited, so if it’s imperative you know for sure, best to cross reference another source, though this is a great place to start.
Wordnik.com is the world’s biggest online English dictionary and includes multiple sources for each word—sort of a one-stop shop for definitions. It includes synonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, same context, forms, rhymes, reverse dictionary, and thousands of user-created lists.
OneLook.com is an online search engine that searches all the dictionaries on the web. Think Expedia for words. For example, there were over 32 results for the word bluebird. It provides a list of all the sources so you can quickly jump to them and compare definitions. The downside to this format is that you do have to click the link to see the actual definition, but the search results are thorough and easy to scroll through.
Rhymer.com is an excellent source for rhyming not only end rhymes, but also last-syllable rhymes, double rhymes, triple rhymes, and beginning rhymes. A great resource for poets and songwriters.
Double Rhyme takes it a step further and provides rhymes for multiple words. An example they give on their home page is “next level” which rhymes with “end central” or “death special” etc. Perfect for finding slant rhymes, interesting combinations, and playing with poetry forms like a villanelle or ghazal.