Merriam-Webster has leaded up with QA International to launch a new online visual dictionary, which contains information on over 20,000 terms and more than 6,000 illustrations. Visual Dictionary Online is available at http://www.visualdictionaryonline.com .
You can browse the dictionary by topic (from astronomy to sports & games) or you can do a keyword search of the index, which will suggest words. Doing a search for giraffe, for example, brought up an illustration called “EXAMPLES OF UNGULATE MAMMALS” and included a giraffe, hippo, elephant, etc. Beneath that were brief captions about each type of mammal and a link to an audio pronunciation.
I believe I would like these illustrations more if they were not accompanied by a GIANT DISTRACTING WATERMARK. I understand the need for the watermark, but perhaps a little smaller and a little more transparent. Other than that I liked the scope of what is here — I wasn’t expecting an illustration for delicatessen (see the difference between American and Canadian bacon at a glance!) or a whole set of illustrations related to optics (cross-section of an electron microscope.)
In addition to the definitions there’s also a game of the week (match the definitions to the illustrations; this week’s was pretty easy but the archived game for the castle looks tough) and a place you can buy the software version of the visual dictionary. There’s a place for tools — blog, Web, and school lessons — but nothing’s there yet.