For a while now, I’ve fretted that we’re turning into a nation of weenies and permanently enraged censors, that too many of us are afraid of letting disagreeable or uncomfortable ideas into the limelight. If it’s not the p.c. overreach of campus ‘speech codes’ or the attempts to criminalize ‘hate speech,’it’s the FCC’s crackdown on cussing in PBS documentaries and the Secret Service’s keeping protesters fenced off in ‘free speech zones.’ But during the last month, this impulse to squelch—indulged by the left and the right and the milquetoast middle—seems to have reached some kind of tipping point, as if we’ve entered a permanent state of hysterical overreaction . . .
Manilow method n. The discouragement of loitering in public places by broadcasting music that is offensive to young people, particularly the songs of singer Barry Manilow.
What’s another word for thesaurus?
Are you just plain sick of a word, like “empowerment,” or an expression, like the vaguely obscene “bottom line”? Do you wish they’d just go away? You can nominate them for banishment at The Banished Words List.
Try a new add-in dictionary if you’re sick of Microsoft’s. WordWeb Pro, is an English dictionary, thesaurus, and word finder. This program is a powerful, cheap, stand-alone dictionary and thesaurus, but you can also add new words, make your own glossaries, let it cross-reference the dictionaries already installed on your PC, or even teach it to cross-reference your favorite online dictionaries and thesauri. Get the Pro version–worth the $19.00, or try it for free.
A Word A Day by Anu Garg is one of the oldest sites on the internet for words. AWAD is always interesting and the best site for rare and unusual vocabulary.
Try The Word Spy, by Paul McFedries, the web site for word lovers. This Web site and its associated mailing list are devoted to recently coined words, existing words that have enjoyed a recent renaissance, and older words that are being used in new ways.
The Word Spy also comes in book form with a blurb on the jacket from Richard Dooling: “Tired of finding dead words embalmed in dusty dictionaries? Word Spy is one of those rare books that capture words live in the wild, complete with up-to-the-minute citations and examples of usage . . . living proof that to invent a language is to invent a way of life.” See the jacket and Amazon links at right to purchase.
The Word Spy also features a nice selection of quotations about words called Words About Words.
Ask Oxford is still the best all-around word-a-day and quote-a-day stop.
Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.
Brainy Quote is one of the best sites on the Internet for finding an apt quotation or browsing by author or topic.
Michael Moncur’s The Quotations Page is also good, but lately it’s clotted with pop-up advertising.
For quality over quantity, try Steve and Sally Browning’s Quote-O-Matic; no ads, clean interface, easy searching, high quality.
Michael Moncur’s The Quotations Page:
Bartleby Quotations is also excellent and features three major works that can be searched with a single form.
Bartleby Quotations featuring:
The Nebraska Center For Writers has an excellent collection of Quotes For Writers.
For a really good time, try the Shakespearean Insulter.
Book Collections of Great Quotations
- The 2,548 Best Things Ever Said, Collected by Robert Byrne.
- Quotations With An Attitude, Collected by Roy L. Stewart.
- The Portable Curmudgeon, by Jon Winokur.
- Return Of The Portable Curmudgeon, by Jon Winokur.
- Cassell Dictionary Of Cynical Quotations, by Jonathon Green.
Browse Other Quote Books On Amazon:
Dictionaries For Professional Writers
“Leaf through a dictionary or try to make one, and you will find that every word covers and masks a well so bottomless that the questions you toss into it arouse no more than an echo.”–Paul Valery
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary is not new any more (1993), but it’s still the best dictionary of American English for almost any serious reader or writer. These days you can buy it with an easy-to-use CD-ROM version included; or buy either version separately.
Webster’s Third Unabridged
The Random House Historical Dictionary Of American Slang can be read for pure pleasure, but is also an excellent resource for word scholars and storytellers. It’s tragically incomplete, however, because Volume 2 H-O was published in 1997, and Random House has no plans to publish the final volume. Write your Congressman.
Random House Slang Dictionary
The Dictionary Of American Regional English, from Harvard’s Belknap Press, is not quite as much fun to browse as the Random House volumes, but it’s authoritative and features extensive information about etymology and regional variations.
Dictionary of American Regional English:
The New Hacker’s Dictionary, compiled by Eric S. Raymond is more than just another dictionary of computer jargon; it also contains a treatise on slang and a linguistics lesson on how slang happens. Lots of fun to browse.
Other Good Word Books:
- The F-Word, by Jesse Sheidlower.
- The Describer’s Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms and Literary Quotations, by David Grambs
Browse Dictionaries On Amazon: