One of the most important tools for any writer (or for that matter any lover of words) is a good dictionary. That usually means Merriam-Webster. Out in a box in my garage is a huge, heavy unabridged dictionary. Once I start going through boxes, it will be something I give away. Why? Because I've found a more manageable, weightless, and always up-to-date dictionary.
I subscribe to Merriam-Webster online premium services. It gives me access to the unabridged version as well as the Collegiate version that provides dates when words came into usage (important for writers of historical fiction). Also included in the subscription is a thesaurus, encyclopedia, medical dictionary, Spanish-English & French-English dictionaries, an atlas, and a style guide. As a Firefox user, I also have the search tool and the sidebar installed in my browser for faster look-ups. The cost of the subscription is $29.95 per year. I used to spend that much on dictionaries/thesauruses/etc. every year so for me, it's a good deal and takes no bookshelf space. I appreciate the ease and the speed. Since I'm online all the time, it's the best thing for me.
I'd also like to tell you about the Merriam-Webster's Elementary Dictionary: The Authoritative Student Reference. I was sent a copy of it for review, and I have to tell you, it's terrific if you have a child or grandchild in elementary school. All graphics are in color so it is inviting to look through. It's attractive enough that I am tempted to keep it for myself, thinking it might be helpful when I'm writing about a child. However, I'll pass it along to my youngest granddaughters who are home-schooled. They need it more than I do.
And just for fun, I'll close this blog post with a Word of the Day:
• HYDE-bound •
1 : of a domestic animal : having a dry skin lacking in pliancy
*2 : having an inflexible or ultraconservative character
The store failed when its hidebound owners refused to alter their business model to adjust for the changing economy.
Here's to words!