Summary: Visuwords describes itself as an “online graphic dictionary.” It is a “dictionary, thesaurus,” and “mapper” of word relationships and origins. When users type in a word of their choosing (or if they select the “random” option for a spontaneous selection), a colorful graphic depicting that word and other related words is generated.
Contents: The word maps created with this website include such information as definitions, derivations, parts of speech, and related words. Word relationships, like those found in SAT analogies, are also included. For example, “is a part of” and “opposes” are two descriptors used to map word relationships. Other categories depicted include “topic,” “usage,” and “region” domains. For example, the word “afeared” is listed under regional descriptions.
Strengths: The colorful maps generated by this website are appropriate for all ages, and especially appeal to visual learners. The new Common Core Standards are addressed with this website, as students are now expected to recognize/use strategies for understanding word meanings. The explanations provided to users (for understanding the various links between word groupings, or ”synset” pods) are helpful in deciphering the word maps. Placement of these color-coded keys is helpful, as well. There are few advertisements on the page to distract users, and the “random” option is quite addictive and fun. My “random” search brought up “curling iron!” Users will find this website visually appealing and intellectually interesting.
Weaknesses: The word maps for common words, such as “cat,” are so expansive in size that the key for understanding the word relationships is of little help. Full screen viewing is required for popular words, which elminates room for the key (and thereby makes decoding the word relationships difficult).
Rating: 4 out of 5