As George Bernard Shaw observed, “the United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.” So while the Oxford English Dictionary may be, in its publisher’s words, “the definitive record of the English language,” it is not always the most useful lexical tool for writers on this side of the pond.
The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary has long been recognized as the authority for American English. The dictionary is currently undergoing its most comprehensive updating in over fifty years, including 5,000 new words, 100,000 quotations, dates of first known use, usage paragraphs, and much more. For an overview of the new Unabridged Dictionary, check out this video:
Merriam-Webster has completely overhauled the interface, making the database easier and more fun to use. In addition, the Library’s subscription comes with six other Merriam-Webster references: the Collegiate Dictionary, Collegiate Thesaurus, Collegiate Encyclopedia, Medical Dictionary, Spanish-English Dictionary, French-English Dictionary, and Style Guide.