The best dictionary for college students, or for any student, is the Oxford English Dictionary. Luckily, you don't have to carry this tremendous dictionary with you; there is an online version found at www.oed.com. Best of all, it's free for students in universities who have a paid subscription to the website.
The Oxford English Dictionary contains over half a million words and more are being added. It also includes the usage of over two and a half million quotations. This Dictionary is historical, meaning it does more than just define the usage of modern day words. It also gives their historical background and how they are used in different English-speaking countries around the world.
The Oxford English Dictionary is concise, informative, and all-inclusive. Hard to define words, such as goofus or tunku, will find their place in this dictionary. There is even a "Lost for words" button which takes the user to a random word.
The dictionary provides some historical examples of a word and how its use has varied over time. This is especially helpful for English students, such as those who are perhaps studying medieval literature, because modern words would have had entirely different meanings. Colloquialisms or slang words are also included, even Homer Simpson's classic "Doh!".
However, don't let the Dictionary's laxity in word inclusions fool you. The Oxford English Dictionary is perhaps the most comprehensive dictionary that exists today. Not only does it define words, it also has options for pronunciation, etymology, and a date chart which shows when the word was probably first used.
Although the 20-volume set of the printed Oxford English Dictionary is available for purchase, the website wins in terms of easy navigation, accessibility, and inexpensiveness. For college students with a strict budget and a need for words, the online Oxford English Dictionary is their best bet for satisfying both. The website is not complicated at all; the search box is plain to see, and the organization is quite elementary. The advanced search feature allows the user to narrow down a specific word, restricting the search to parts of speech or case-sensitive searching. The online version of the Oxford English Dictionary is also updated frequently; new words are being added constantly so that the aspiring writer or regular college student can be kept up-to-date with new terms they can use for those dreaded papers.
For those with a little more ambition, ordinary people can suggest new words to be included in the Dictionary. By sending appeals to the OED, the reader can contribute to finding historical evidence for particular words. What other dictionary values reader feedback and help?
The Oxford English Dictionary's utility is evident in so many ways, and its use shouldn't be primarily limited to college students. Even younger and older people alike can benefit and expand their vocabulary tremendously just by having a little bit of the Dictionary available to them.