online dictionaries with simplified definitions

A tip: If the definition of a word in your usual dictionary (or Google) is a bit difficult to understand, try looking it up at the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries website. The definitions there are simplified and friendlier to students, and there are example sentences showing word usage. 

I used to have a physical copy of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary sitting on my desk at my last job. I don’t think I ever opened it, though. It’s easier to look things up online.

Do students these days still carry dictionaries to class? I had a somewhat outdated Concise Oxford Dictionary I used in secondary school in the 1990s—it had ‘global warming’ listed as one of the new terms included in that particular edition. It was in hardback, and thicker than most of the dictionaries my classmates had, because my father thought the ‘student’ dictionaries didn’t have enough words. I still have that copy sitting on a bookshelf downstairs. I remember lugging it to English class, heavy enough to classify as a blunt weapon, trying to balance it along with my textbook and exercise books and notebooks and stationery. The most common reaction to it was, ‘And that’s the concise version?’ 

Thank goodness we had lockers.

A postscript: After writing this post, I pulled down the dictionary from the shelf out of nostalgia, and I let it fall open to a random page. The first word that caught my eye was ‘inshallah’. Things will work out, if Allah wills it.

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