The Visual Dictionary: More than a Picture

The Visual Dictionary shows how language is used, and it provides a description of the word. At first glance, The Visual Dictionary seems like a dictionary to teach young children the English language. However, while it might be used for this purpose, The Visual Dictionary is more than just a dictionary for picture-word identification.

An investigation of the word zebra exemplifies what The Visual Dictionary offers. For example, a word search leads to a cartoon-like graphic image of a zebra on a page called “Different Land Animals 1 of 3”. Beneath the image, a word definition for zebra is given: “striped African mammal, a cousin of the horse.” The words zebra and horse are underlined and link to other pages. The zebra link provides detailed written information, similar to what might be found in an Encyclopedia Britannica. The Visual Dictionary reports, “Zebras are African equids best known for their distinctive white and black stripes.” Photos are also included. Another link provides a video clip of a zebra. The word horse links to a page about the morphology of a horse. The Visual Dictionary provides a diagram of a horse and labels each part of it. Further, it defines each label made on the diagram. It also defines the term “morphology of a horse.”

Seemingly a tool for the young, The Visual Dictionary offers an adult writer a resource to accurately label and describe things and a reader access to defining unknown words. Definitions, whether visual or visual with textual support, are clear, direct, and meaningful. For example, if reading an article about fashion or sewing, the Pleats and Slashes page shows what a box pleat looks like. Further, it provides pictures of other pleat types. In contrast, The Oxford English Dictionary defines a box pleat as, “A pleat consisting of two parallel creases facing opposite directions and forming a raised section in between” which confuses more than helps. In other words, OED’s definition to me is utterly useless whereas The Visual Dictionary definition shows meaning. OED’s definition of zebra, “an African wild horse with black-and-white stripes and an erect mane” in no way compares to the tiered layers of information and imagery that The Visual Dictionary provides. In sum, The Visual Dictionary provides a writer a resource to see things in terms of how they appear and then supports the image with more detailed, understandable, and useful information.


Bibliographic Citations


Dery, Bernard. The Visual Dictionary. Simon-Pierre LeBel, 9 Apr. 2006. Web. 22 June 2014. <;.

Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, 9 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 June 2014. <;.



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