Free M-W Online bites the dust – NOT!

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Free M-W Online bites the dust – NOT!

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Oct 07, 2005 5:19 am

Merriam-Webster Online, probably our best free online dictionary, has bitten the dust - they're not out of business, they're just not free anymore. I went there to look up a word and I got the message that I could sign up for a 14-day trial after first paying $14.95 annual fee with my credit card. Then, if not completely satisfied, I could cancel before the 14 days were up. Oh, well. I guess they have to make some bucks too, but its too bad to lose this free resource.

Ken G – October 6, 2005

Free M-W Online bites the dust – NOT!

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Oct 07, 2005 6:37 am

You know Ken, I don't believe that's correct. Since you launched this thread I have successfully looked up quite a few words directly via both and , as well as using the Merrriam-Webster toolbar, without encountering any dunning requests.

However, I have sometimes encountered a message like the one you describe when looking up a rare word which is not included in the free online dictionary.

For instance, this is what you see if you look up 'hirple':

Main Entry: hirple
hirple is one of more than 1,000,000 entries available at Click here to start your free trial!

As far as I can see, the intent is to direct what the blurb describes as 'language enthusiasts' to , whose fees are given as follows:

Annual: $29.95, Monthly: $4.95.

In return for the subscription fee, the publisher promises access to a variety of both general and specialist dictionaries and other reference works, some of them foreign-language dictionaries (specifically, Spanish-English and French-English).

Ken, I suspect that you simply typed in a word that is not included in the online dictionary and encountered what was in effect an error message that was trying to upsell you to the paid-for version of the product. In your characteristically robust style, you successfully resisted their devilish blandishments. :-)
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Free M-W Online bites the dust – NOT!

Post by haro » Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:51 pm

I agree with Erik, although there was a brief attempt to make Merriam-Webster Online a pay site maybe about two years ago. That was not the same reference to M-W Unabridged as mentioned by Erik; it was downright impossible to look up any words in M-W Online. However, quite obviously it was a breath-taking failure. After a few days the site was back to normal.
Signature: Hans Joerg Rothenberger

Free M-W Online bites the dust – NOT!

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:01 pm

Erik and Hans Joerg, You’re right and the free Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is not gone, but when I tried to look up AT LARGE, I got the following:
<“AT-LARGE is one of more than 500,000 entries available at Click here to start your free trial!”>
When I hit the Click here button it offered me (“165,000 ENTIRIES FROM AMERICA’S BEST-SELLING DICTIONARY, UPDATED ANNUALLY”) for an annual fee of $14.95 and “Start your free 14-Day Trial Today!” [[But first get your credit card out!]]. And I didn’t realize that the free online version was not Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate. They never do tell you the relationship between the free Merriam-Webster Online and the $14.95 version, but since M-W Online refuses to look up ‘at large’ (and other less common words and phrases), we can only assume that the $14.95 version has more. How much more is never specified – head word counts are listed for their other dictionaries, etc. but not for Merriam-Webster Online. And if you hit "Upgrade to" on this second page, you learn that for an annual fee of $29.95 you can get access to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, which has 476,000 entries.

However, if you don’t want to spring for the bucks, use and you will usually have access to such less common words and phrases as ‘at large’ for free! (<:)

Ken – October 9, 2005

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