Words constitute the stuff and fluff of all oral and written communication. Without them, there could be no self-expression, theatrical performance, or song. They create binding contracts, establish political borders, and cast magical spells. Countries go to war over thoughtless words uttered in haste. Children make life choices based (in part) on grownups' words of praise and encouragement. Poems weave word tapestries of intense emotions. SAT and other standardized tests measure individual word skill. The Internet can help students develop a strong vocabulary. For increased word power, visit the following Web sites:

Vocabulary University
Free word puzzles and other vocabulary enrichment tools build word skills at this Web site suitable for individuals interested in developing a richer personal vocabulary, teachers looking to enhance classroom curriculum, and students in home-schooling and ESL programs. Interactive puzzles, fill-in-the-blank games, definition match activities, "rootonyms" and thematic content tied to calendar events turn word-building work into play.

Subscribe to this free word service and receive a daily Email from the Wordsmith.org "wordserver" with a special word, its definition, voiced pronunciation, etymology, usage in context example, quotation and other interesting vocabulary tidbits. Visit the site to explore the archives, which date back to March, 1994

Oxford English Dictionary: Daily Word
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), with its 20-volume print or CD-ROM format, is the unquestioned authority on words. Visit OED Online to explore the site's free "word of the day." Each day, it features a new word with pronunciation, spellings, etymology, quotations, and the date this word entered the English language. You can also take advantage of Welcome to OED Online supporting simple and advanced search techniques to help you find the meaning of any word in the OED dictionary.

Another free Word of the Day Email service offering daily Emails with a definition and sample sentences from literature, newspapers, magazines, and other published sources showing how the word is used in context. Other free vocabulary learning activities include crossword and word search puzzles (updated daily) which provide access to word definitions contained in the numerous dictionaries hosted at the site, including older editions of the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, WordNet, The Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing, Jargon File, and Acronym Finder. Dictionary.com's featured word games (e.g., Cryptogram, Hangman, Maze, Phrase Invaders and Slide Solve) are available only to subscribers who pay $3/month or $20/year.

Merriam-Webster OnLine: The Language Center
Several vocabulary building tools available free of charge here include a searchable dictionary keyed to the print version of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Other no-cost services include a Word of the Day (via Email), Word Games (Definition Demolition, Transform Brainstorm, Flip Flop, and Match Maker) and Word from the Lighter Side featuring articles on word usage in different times and places. Paid subscribers gain access to premium content at Merriam-WebsterCollegiate.com, which hosts the recently published Eleventh Edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, in addition to the Collegiate Thesaurus, Collegiate Encyclopedia, and Merriam-Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster's Vocabulary Builder
Many English words we use today come from Greek and Latin. At the free Vocabulary Builder Web site (based on a book and CD-ROM of the same name) you can brush up on those English words complete with pronunciations, definitions, and contextual examples, and discover the meanings of 200 words which derive from mythological names. Once you've mastered the content at this site, take the online quiz to see how much you know!

TravLang Travel & Language Services
Gain entry to the magical world of other cultures by taking advantage of a host of free foreign language services at this Web site. You can explore Travlang's Word of the Day with its multi-language translations and pronunciations of a new word each day, and Ergane, a Windows-based multilingual translation dictionary that uses the artificial language of Esperanto to translate words and phrases from one natural application to another. Travlang also markets several low-priced foreign language learning products including pocket voice translators, linguistic microcomputers, and software dictionaries.

SuperKids Educational Software Review
This site provides a powerful combination of tools for educational play. You'll find several entertaining tools and games to improve spelling and vocabulary skills, including Word of the Day (organized by grade level and offering SAT vocabulary review), Hangman, Hidden Word Puzzles (PC only), Word Scrambler, TextTwist, and WHATword? The games are interactive and played online. For example, WHATword (a Java applet) challenges players to rearrange letters on a grid to form as many words as possible before time runs out. Higher points are awarded if words match target game words. Hangman offers theme-based puzzles using words from Shakespeare, SAT tests, history, geography and science.

ARTFL Project: Roget's Thesaurus Search Form
Search the full text of the 1911 edition of Roget's Thesaurus (supplemented July 1991) for synonyms to use in your writing projects and check out the collection of synonyms available at Lexical FreeNet: Connected Thesaurus offering several tools for point and click access including RhymeZone, Onelook Dictionary, and Shakespeare Search, in addition to a conventional thesaurus. There's also an online dictionary-thesaurus at Wordsmyth.

Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. 1995
The online version of Houghton Mifflin's popular word book includes a searchable database of 35,000 synonyms and more than 250,000 cross-references. However, it's only one of several components in Bartleby's American Heritage Reference Collection which also features the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition (2000) containing more than 90,000 entries and 70,000 audio pronunciations and the American Heritage Book of English Usage, 1996 offering an inside look at grammar, word formation, gender, and scientific forms.

Web Thesaurus Compendium
This user-friendly thesaurus portal provides easy access to several Web based synonym collections. You can search for a particular thesaurus alphabetically or by subject. Topics include aerospace, archeology, chemistry, government, Egypt, geography, and folk culture.

SuperVoca.com: Your Vocabulary Builder Site
It's easy to build word power using the tools available at this Web site. Test your word skills (20 questions at a time) by taking timed analogy, antonym, GRE Vocabulary and TOEFL/TOEIC Vocabulary multiple-choice quizzes. To review missed questions or view your scores, you'll need to register for a free subscription. You can also play Hangman (without hints), view GRE word lists (complete with definitions provided by Merriam-Webster Online and take word frequency tests using data derived from popular newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and USA Today.

Email: Carol S. Holzberg