Hi! We’re Wordnik! Nice to meet you!

Hi! Welcome to Wordnik!

Tenzing the kitten.

Wordnik is a new way to learn about words. Our goal — lofty as it sounds! — is to show you some information about every word in English. (We don’t have every word yet, but we’re working on it.)

At Wordnik, we believe:

  • the best way to learn how to use a word is to see how other people use it. So we’ll try to show you as many example sentences as we can find for each word.
  • information about how a word works is as important as what a word means—so we’ll show you how often you could expect to see a word, notes about where you might find a word, and how a word’s behavior has changed over time.
  • your feedback is important! So there are lots of ways for you to give us yours—you can add tags, suggest related words, point out new words for us, and leave us notes at any word!
  • sites about words should always be fun and never boring.

We’re still in closed beta, but we’ll be open to new users in just a little while — see you soon! Until then, please enjoy the adorable kitten at the top of this post.

44 thoughts on “Hi! We’re Wordnik! Nice to meet you!

  1. This is so exciting! I read the article on NPR.org and am totally stoked to find a dictionary site willing to go further! Can’t wait until Wordnik is up and working! Good luck!

  2. I’d really like to hear your take on how the word “comparable” should be pronounced. I’ve heard it rather frequently in the last few years as “compare-a-bull.” I was trained at an early age, however, to say comp-ra-bull.” I can’t wait to find out which is correct. (And, obviously I don’t know how to put the right marks, etc., over, around and through letters and words.)

    While I’m at it, do you think you could come up with some way to instruct us (or at least push us in the right direction) in grammar as well: bring it to our attention? It kills my ears every time I hear someone saying, and my eyes every time I read someone writing, “Me and Tom did/saw/watched/wondered, etc., such and such.”

    Hoping to be grateful here.


  3. I can’t wait!! Wordnik sounds like a dream come true. Read about this at csmonitor.com and I am impressed. I’m forwarding the article to several friends who will be thrilled to see this. Thanks so much.

  4. My boyfriend and I love to randomly look up words. This is going to be a wonderful tool for this use! Thank you so much and all the best! I read about Wordnik in The Christian Science Monitor.

  5. Wow to Wordnik. I caught it in the print version of the CS Monitor. It will quickly be tagged as a favorite for regular referencing.

  6. Do U plan also to make the distinctions in the following words?


    Oh! For a practical application of so many different words.

  7. I read the article in the Christian Science Monitor today, March 16 and am looking forward to checking out your website. Words are fun. One of my dictionaries was missing a word I looked up, what a disappointment.

  8. I read this morning in the Christian Science Monitor an article about your work creating Wordnik. I am so looking forward to your bring this wonderful resource online. I believe it is one of those things that we will ask ourselves, “how did we get along before this?” 🙂

  9. Aha! The blog is Gravatar enabled! (Hence the sunflower graphic, which is associated with my e-mail address by the Gravatar server.

  10. Read about your new venture on csmonitor.com
    what a great newspaper. can’t wait to access your new website. good luck.

  11. I reckon I just want to be one of the first to comment to the CSM article. I can not spell well so the dictionary has always been a true friend. Some random words have made their way into my vocabulary in the meantime. Welcome online dictionary! You will be put to use.

  12. Cute kitten picture. Reminds me of one of my late cats when they were that size 18 years ago.

    Oh, the dictionary thing sounds good, too. Good point in the CSM article about browsing in print dictionaries. If your serendipity concept helps with that, good; but a sidebar showing the alphabetical sequence in which the target word falls (a la the online OED) would be nice, too.

  13. I’m looking forward to the new verb in the English language, as in “Wordnik, it.”

  14. How long will it be before Wordnik is up and running? I want to inform all of my literate friends of this great storehouse of the meaning of words in English. Three cheers for Erin McKean…are you doing this whole project alone? That is, without help? Also, thanks to Jina Moore at CSM for keeping us informed.

  15. Just ran into the word “penumbra” in a CSM article. Villages were in the penumbra of violence across the border.
    I had to look it up. Looks like it comes from the same root as umbrella and has the meaning of shadow or shade.
    What a joy it will be to use Wordnik! I will inform all my word-loving friends. In fact Facebook may be the way to do it!

  16. Erin, so glad you became a lexicographer. I have the website bookmarked and plan to use it daily! Thanks to Jina Moore of the Christian Science Monitor for bringing it to our attention. I’m cutting out the article and sending it to a ‘wordy’ friend. Yea, I still do that. Hope you can get helpers to assist you. I’m sure they’re out there. Is that your sweet kitten?

  17. Wow, thank you all very much for the well-wishes! We’re itching to be up and running ourselves — it won’t be too long now!

    And no, thank goodness, Wordnik is not just me. We have a great team that includes (in alphabetical order, natch): Tim Allen, Grant Barrett, Russell Horton, Mary Mark-Ockerbloom, Orion Montoya, Heather Rivers, Andy Stanberry, Tony Tam, and David Wu. (David, next time I’ll list us in REVERSE alphabetical order, I promise.)

    The kitten, Tenzing, belongs to friend-of-Wordnik Rose White. Thanks, Rose!

  18. Is there a mailing list function available yet? I definitely want to know when the site goes into beta, but I’ll probably forget to check…

  19. caught the CSM article and delighted that there will be a resource that goes beyond the conventional dictionary and thesaurus….have always yearned for that indefinable space where words are used in innovative ways and their meanings are made more transparent as truly effective tools!

  20. Let’s get this beta started;)How awesome for my students!!! First Lynn Truss, and her book “Eats Shoots and Leaves,”and now Erin McKean and Wordnik.”O,to be an English teacher in the age of McKean!”

  21. Hi:
    I read about “Wordnik” by way of Christian Sience Monotor on 17 March 2009, and am looking forward to visting on a “regularly basis.”

    Ah! words are powerful! Impressive! I will stop for the moment!

    Thanks for this -Great work!


  22. Wordnik – wonderful idea. There is nothing out there at present online that compares to the reference books called “Roget’s Thesaurus”. Just not enough nuances to choose from online as Roget’s had. One form of speech that needs correcting and which are often misused are adverbs. For example: He ran to the station quick (should be quickly).

  23. Read about Wordnik in the CSM and was disappointed that your dictionary is still under construction. But great things are worth waiting for. I’ve got it bookmarked and will use it lots when it is open for business.

    Great ideas you and your team have. Wow!

  24. I read it in the Christian Science Monitor (March 16) I can’t wait to find your definition of ‘libertarian”

  25. Another Monitor reader here. Can’t tell you how excited I am about such a tool. Love, love, love words! I’m spreading the news about wordnik.com

  26. One more Monitor reader. I’m looking forward to seeing your site up and running. I hope you’ll email those of us who have visited your blog.

  27. This looks exciting. I could hardly wait to get to it on my computer after I read the article in the Christian Science Monitor. I think all of the ESL staff at the community college where I teach will want to get in on this! Our students always need all the new words they can get.

  28. Once things are up and running, which I hope will be soon, I’ll create an account and a whole new world will open up for me – thanks to Erin and team. Now all you’ll need is a big billboard to get the “wordnik” out! Good luck!

  29. A terrific service! Well done.

    I especially like the images so that you can actually – finally – see clear pictures of words, which is not an easy thing to find.

    One suggestion, though.

    As you continue to expand the service, think about bringing in an encyclopedia dimension. For instance, I very much enjoyed the entry for “ziggurat”, as well as the description. I still keep a copy of my trustworthy, “Macmillan Contemporary Dictionary”, which I have had beside me on every desk I’ve had since I was fifteen! The reason? My Mac is a combination dictionary/encylopedia, complete with pictures.

    Think about going in that direction. It can be a very useful source.

  30. I would like to see dates included with the citations, a la OED. It would be useful and interesting to have the historical perspective of a word’s meaning. At this early stage, adding dates should not be terribly difficult, I imagine–certainly easier now that later on, when the words and citations reach humungus proportions. Keep up the good word work.

  31. I read about Wordnik in the New York Times article so I thought I would check it out. What’s the big deal — yet another social media search site? Wikipedia provides more useful information. Google provides more results. (I hope that name dropping PR wasn’t too expensive.)





  33. Dear Bill,

    It looks like you like the CAPSLOCK key — at Wordnik we’re treating differently capitalized words differently. Look for “water” and see what you get. 🙂

    Soon we’ll be linking up definitions to different capitalizations, but for now Wordnik is case-sensitive.



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