Webster’s has released a USB dictionary that is reasonably priced and features plenty of extra space to save assignments. I am an enormous fan of computer-based dictionaries. They are much more versatile than paper dictionaries. For one thing, you can cram a lot more information into a CD or a memory stick than you can in a book that is to be carried with you wherever you go. You can search through them faster and they are a lot lighter. The drawback of course is that you need a PC to access them. I do not think that dictionary applications will ever completely do away with the need for paper dictionaries, but they will probably do away with the enormous multi-volume dictionaries that most people never lay eyes upon.
Rarely do I find an English word that I do not know or cannot figure out from context. Still, English is an extremely expansive language and every once in a while I do get caught out. I did not know, for example, that people from Minneapolis would be referred to as Minneapolitans. It seems obvious in hindsight, but I was caught off guard. The trouble is, there is almost never a dictionary at hand when I really need one. Dictionary apps tend to be a lot easier on the eyes than say, Dictionary.com. As a teacher, I get dictionary software free, but I have a number of qualms about the more popular software that is available. Namely, you need to drag out the CD about one time in five and I do not like juggling discs. A USB version seems to be a less annoying alternative.
Webster’s move is a good one. It comes in 2GB and 4GB models that are priced at $42.99 and $64.99 respectively. That is not bad when you consider that the dictionary software uses 140MB (making it a fraction of the size of Oxford 2006).