Dictionary.com is a free website that offers a wide range of features. Obviously, the main service is to give definitions to words you look up. When you key in a word, you get a lot of useful information. Different meanings and usages will be presented, together with the pronunciation guide. One drawback of this guide is that you have to be familiar with the pronunciation symbols. You can also find out the origins of the word on the same page. More than that, you can find links to other specialized dictionaries which may have the same word.
What I really like about this online dictionary is that you can search for an idiomatic expression or slang and chances are, you will find it there. It also shows the meanings of different collocations for a particular verb. This way, if you are not really sure what you want, you are able to choose from a wide range of words.
From the main page, you can access an online bookstore, a thesaurus, an encyclopedia, feature articles, puzzles, and a translator. You can even make use of tools such as the http://Dictionary.com toolbar. If you need to look up a foreign word, there are links to foreign dictionaries as well. Do you want to improve your vocabulary? You can click on the Word of the Day link and even subscribe to the email for this feature. Are you a sucker for historical trivia? You can increase your knowledge by subscribing to a ”What Happened on this Day?” email. For writers, there are links to writing styles and grammar usage guides. Even if you are not a writer, you will benefit from the simple, straight-forward http://Dictionary.com Style Guide.
If you want to hear how a word is pronounced, you have to subscribe to the premium service. Another advantage of this service is ad-free access. No more irritating pop-ups every time you enter a word. You will also have access to color illustrations not available from the free site. The fee is not too high, only about $19.95 per year. Subscriptions are also available on a monthly basis but the rates are a little bit higher.
I haven’t tried the premium service but I think that the free service offers enough in terms of features and information. If you use the dictionary very often and you have no idea what the pronunciation symbols mean, then you can opt to shell out a few dollars for premium service.