There are numerous online dictionaries already on the web, usually awash with advertising, but this is the first time a major publisher has placed its dictionary content online, free to use and for now at least, free of ads (other than their own).
The new website, www.collinsdictionary.com, went live in beta form on the weekend with 120,000 words, which according to Press Association (PA) reports, is planned to increased to 220,000 by March.
The site is simple to use, with Google-style predictive prompts narrowing down your word as you type into the search box. It returns a standard dictionary definition plus synonyms, examples of use in a sentence or phrase, the origins of the word, a graph displaying its use/popularity over the years, and tabs for translating the word into French, German and Spanish.
As it develops, the site (which has already been 18 months in the making) will build the translations to 350,000 words in 35 languages with audio pronunciation help.
Alex Brown, head of digital at HarperCollins, told PA the new site is “part of an ongoing strategy to make Collins’ content available to as wide an audience as possible through new digital media”.
There are no plans to cease production of the Collins English Dictionary and other language dictionaries in print.
Will the Collins dictionary encourage you to be more creative? Or will you just stick with your spell-checker?