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Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Thesaurus


Activity Description

Use this online dictionary in class whenever students need to know a definition of a word or learn words with similar meanings to a given vocabulary word. You can also assign students to use the Web site to look up definitions, synonyms, and see sample sentences of given vocabulary words on word lists and hear pronunciations of words.


  1. Make sure that the Web site is not blocked at your school before using it with students.
  2. Set volume of computer at an adequate volume for using the audio component.
  3. Identify vocabulary that you want your students to study and create a vocabulary list for students if they will be working independently in a computer lab.


  1. Open the Example Web Site (above).
  2. Type a word in the text box at the top of the page.
  3. Select the magnifying glass/search icon or press the Enter key on your keyboard to demonstrate for students how to use this tool.
  4. Select the speaker icon to hear the word pronounced.
  5. The resulting entry will include definitions for the word with its part(s) of speech, example sentences or phrases that use the word, origin/etymology of the word, related words, and rhyming words.

Teacher Tips

More Ways

Other features of the site include the following:

  • A thesaurus
  • Spanish-English translator
  • A medical dictionary
  • An encyclopedia
  • Numerous quizzes and games (vocabulary, name that thing, commonly misspelled words, crosswords and many more that would be fun warm-ups and fillers)
  • Word of the Day (which you can subscribe to and a new word will be sent to your e-mail daily) would be a great daily vocabulary teaching/learning opportunity for advanced ESL students, and the video section contains explanations of grammar and spelling rules, slang, commonly confused words and more that would be appropriate for viewing as warm-ups and fillers in an advanced ESL class
  • Program Areas

    • ABE: Adult Basic Education


    • Low
    • Intermediate
    • High
    • All Levels


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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.