Category: Wordsmyth Blog
In Latin, focus means “hearth” or “fireplace.” It entered English in the 1600s as a word for the point where rays of light meet. The meaning “center of activity or energy” came into use in the 1700s. Because the hearth was for centuries the center of home life, it is not surprising that, today, several of the meanings of focus have something to do with a center or meeting point.
If you enjoyed this word history, try looking up these words in the Word Explorer Dictionary for Children: weird, compassion, barbecue, curfew, and gossip. Some of these histories will surprise you!
1. a medicine with undisclosed ingredients, advertised without proof as an effective cure; quack remedy.
example: William Radam’s “Microbe Killer,” a nostrum sold in the 1890s, made the claim “Cures all Diseases.” (more…)
Meet your free Wordsmyth Dictionary Widget
The Wordsmyth Blog now comes accessorized with the nifty Wordsmyth Dictionary Widget. The Dictionary Widget is also available free from our website (here). Because it needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated, we’ve made it easy for you to try it here on our blog pages.
Try it here, now
1. Look in the upper right corner of this page. You’ll see the widget with a search box.
2. Double-click on any word on this page–a word in this or the following sentence, for example: Don’t clutter my etagere with your gimcracks!
3. You’ll see the word you clicked on appear in the widget search box, and, lo and behold, a concise entry for the word will appear in the widget. The concise entry includes pronunciation, audio pronunciation, part of speech, definitions, examples, and even images. To view the complete entry (with synonyms, antonyms, and derived words), click on the ‘See full entry’ link.
4. Don’t like the widget in the upper right corner? You can drag it to any spot in the window and it will stay there unless you move it. You can also shrink or expand the widget window, or close it, by clicking on the icons in the upper right corner of the widget. If you close the widget, it will remain closed until you double-click on a word. The diagonal arrow is another way to go to the full dictionary entry.
Look up any word on any webpage
If you would like to be able to look up any word on any web page in the same way, visit our widget page at the Comprehensive Dictionary or the Word Explorer Dictionary for Children. All you have to do to install it is drag the link for the Wordsmyth Floater or Wordsmyth Pop-up Widget to your browser toolbar. (For more information, see our FAQ.)
Let us know what you (or your students) think!
Comprehensive Dictionary Suite: Integrated Leveled Dictionaries
One of the most distinctive and useful features Wordsmyth offers is the ability to search three dictionaries, at three different reading levels, from one search box. The Comprehensive Dictionary Suite combines our Advanced Dictionary-Thesaurus with two additional Wordsmyth dictionaries, the Intermediate Dictionary-Thesaurus for upper elementary school students, and the Beginner’s Dictionary-Thesaurus for English language learners. Using the buttons beneath the search box, users can select their default dictionary level (see screenshot below) and get results from that dictionary with every search.
Because the three dictionaries are integrated in the Wordsmyth database, and not merely aggregated, the possibility that selecting a lower-level dictionary will return no results is eliminated. If the Beginner’s Dictionary has been selected and the user looks up a word not included in that dictionary, the system will automatically display the entry for that word from the dictionary at the next higher level.
Integration of the dictionaries also means that at the top of every entry the user can see which other dictionaries contain entries for the word, allowing the user to move to a simpler or more advanced level with one click, as shown in this screenshot:
Here’s an example. May is learning English as a second language, and is puzzled when a new acquaintance tells her, “I always get a big hand when I sing.” Later, May looks up “hand” in the Wordsmyth Beginner’s Dictionary to see if there is a definition of hand that helps explain what she heard. As it turns out, although there are numerous senses of “hand” in the Beginner’s Dictionary, none of them make sense of the singer’s expanding hand. May can then click on “See this entry in the Intermediate/Advanced Dictionary” to find the sense of “hand” meaning “a round of applause.” And, if she needs to know the meaning of “applause,” the default dictionary level is still at Beginner’s. She can click on the word “applause” right there in the advanced definition and the returned entry will be from the Beginner’s Dictionary. The flexible search interface of of Wordsmyth dictionaries enables users to select the reading level at which they feel most comfortable while retaining seamless access to entries at other levels.
The Interactive World Map for Children in WILD
The Wordsmyth Illustrated Learner’s Dictionary (WILD) includes all the world’s countries as headword entries. In addition to the definition and pronunciation, each country’s entry contains a map illustration showing the country and the region surrounding it. In addition, the interactive World Map for children, found in the WILD Collections, gives children an opportunity to view the parts of the world from the top level (the World), to the continent or region level, to the individual country level, and back up again. (For Canada and the United States, one can navigate further down to the province or state level.)
Mousing over a continent or region, such as Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, or Middle East, will highlight that region and bring up an audio icon for the region’s pronunciation and an icon that links to its dictionary entry.
click to enlarge
If a child clicks on the icon to go to the dictionary entry for a particular region, he or she will find descriptive information in simple and engaging language. To return to the map once in the dictionary requires only a simple click.
Once on a region map, clicking on it will bring up the labels of all the countries in that region. The child may then click on individual countries to read about them in the dictionary or hear the pronunciation of their names. All currently recognized nations are included in the WILD dictionary, and each has a definition describing the country’s location in the world and providing information that will give a child some impression of what the country is like. Definitions are not encyclopedic in length or scope, but they include such information as what animals may live in the country, how people make their living there, or what type of climate or terrain characterizes the nation. Any type of interesting fact about a nation may be included so that children will be encouraged to see every country of the world as unique and significant.