The Dictionary

Try the world’s smartest, fastest dictionary.
Start typing a word and get instant results.

Our dictionary zeroes in on the word you’re looking for and its meaning faster than any other online dictionary. Just start typing a word and the dictionary will display the most likely results. We want you to find the word’s definition as quickly as possible, without having to look through a lot of clutter.

Read friendly, easy-to-understand definitions.

Our dictionary goes beyond definitions. We explain words in a way you can easily understand. For most vocabulary words, you'll find explanations that break down meanings using language that is clear, accessible, and fun to read.

See millions of usage examples.

The best way to understand a word is to see examples of its use “in the wild.” For every word in the dictionary you’ll find examples from real-world sources, covering everything from literature to breaking news. We have tens of millions of example sentences, and we’re adding more every day.

Look up a word and learn it forever.

Learn words you look up in the dictionary by adding them to The Challenge. We’ll assign you the words so you can start mastering their meanings right away. Create vocabulary lists to keep track of the words you’re interested in and share your favorites with others.

choose your words

Caught between words?

Don't be confused! Learn how to make the right choice.
instant/ instance

Around the office, we might like an instance of tea, but we vehemently oppose instant tea. Continue reading...

dual/ duel

Seeing double? Not quite! Dual is two, or double, but a duel is a fight. If you’re getting sick of your fair-weather friend’s dual personality, perhaps you should throw down your glove and challenge him to a duel at high noon. Continue reading...

grisly/ gristly/ grizzly

Blood, guts, and man-eaters, oh my! Feint of heart turn back now! Grisly means relating to horror or disgust, gristly means related to gristle or cartilage, and grizzly is a big ol’ bear. That can eat you. Continue reading...

censor/ censure

A censor hides information. A censure is harsh criticism. They’re both judgments and they both stink. Continue reading...

All Choose Your Words »


Next time you visit the nation’s capital, you can wow tourists by telling them the Washington Monument is an obelisk — a tall, narrow stone pillar that tapers to a point at the top and commemorates an important person or event.

Obelisks were all the rage in ancient Egypt and still in vogue in Rome’s heyday. The Egyptians associated the skinny four-sided monoliths with the sun god Ra and thought they looked like the sun’s rays shining down. Herodotus was among the first writers to describe obelisks, and it’s to him that we owe the word; it comes from the Greek obelos, meaning “nail” or “pointed pillar.” History buffs can still spot obelisks, also called “Cleopatra’s Needles,” everywhere from Myanmar to Manhattan.