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Tip Tuesday #121

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

This week's tip was sent in by Kathryn Jankowski. Kathryn doesn't currently blog, but you probably recognize her name from commenting here and at other kidlit blogs. Here's her tip!

I'm writing a fantasy set in the late 16th century and have been wondering if the language my characters use is appropriate for the times. Don't want them spouting modern lingo! ;-)

Luckily, I found an online aid that not only defines words, but tells you when they were first used. It's the Merriam-Webster site. When you're done checking the definition, you can switch from the dictionary to the thesaurus with just a click. There's even a Spanish-English feature. It's been a great help to me and I think others might like it, too.

~Kathryn Jankowski


  1. Hooorah for dictionaries and the thesaurus! Take care

  2. Thanks for the tip Kathryn. I write fantasy too so may need to check out when words were first used sometime.

  3. That is a great tip! I use the online dictionary and thesaurus often! For my manuscripts and blogs!!

  4. Great tip! May have to use that one soon:) Thank you.

  5. Thank you so much! I'm building my arsenal of helpful sites, including my recent addition of "Google Scholar" for research. Thanks for this one.

  6. Thank you! Bookmarked the site, just in case. :)

  7. Oh my! Fantastic tip Kathryn! Thanks so much.

  8. Fabulous tip! Thanks for sharing Kathryn :)

  9. That's a really cool tip, Kat. Thank you!

  10. hey! That's pretty neat! Thanks Kathryn!

  11. Great tip, Kathryn. I have a book called "English Through the Ages" by William Brohaugh that does the same thing - I'll have to compare it with the online dictionary. But the book has an additional feature - you can look up stuff by time, i.e. words in use by 1650 or 1820 or whatever. It gives the year it was first used, and sometimes another year when it was used as a verb instead of a noun, for example. Browsing it can be surprising!

  12. I use Miram Webster too, for many things but it does give a nice history of the word usage.

    There are quite a few etymologies out there and of course I can't think of one of them at the moment--i have them in a file. I have a couple of friends who write historical and shared some.


  13. I may have to try that. I usually use thesaurus.com, but it's limited.

  14. My oxford dictionary (the massive sized version) tells you the date the word was created. It's really cool.

    1. You know, that reminded me. I have a New Century Dictionary that I inherited from my mother. It might have something similar.

  15. This tip is really useful! Even stories set in the near past could benefit from it. Thanks!

  16. So much easier than googling the word. Thanks for this great tip!