Website review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
Mathwords Website Poster Image
Math dictionary defines, leaves deeper questions unanswered.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 2 reviews

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Educational Value

Kids can learn formal meanings for a huge number of mathematical terms from algebra through calculus. Since most entries raise more questions than they answer, kids will need a strong foundation before using this resource. Expanded definitions with better examples and diagrams would make a significant difference in overall quality. Mathwords suffers from a traditional dictionary concept and undeveloped content. 

Positive Messages

This resource is great for kids who want to stay familiar with terms and formulas: they're all in one spot. Understanding the sometimes-scary math vocabulary is a big part of keeping up.


There are dynamic banner and column ads.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mathwords is a math dictionary organized in three ways that gives kids formal definitions of math terms with little to no elaboration, sparse or indiscernable examples, and dynamic, non-kid level ads (for stuff you've been looking at online, from Pottery Barn to real estate).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byclarence August 6, 2015
Adult Written bycolbox January 2, 2014 is great for kids is great for kids

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What's it about?

Mathwords defines about 2000 mathematic terms plus a few from physics, finance, and modeling. There are four ways to search: A to Z, full list, subject areas, and Google-powered web search. Most definitions contain multiple references to other terms plus either diagrams or examples, but only a few have textual explanations, for example, arctan. About 20 terms are accompanied by a dynamic diagram from McGraw-Hill's Geometer's Sketchpad. About 36 terms populate a real-world application list.

Is it any good?

Mathwords's accurate definitions could be useful for advanced students who just need a nudge to remember a particular aspect of a term, but kids needing a bit more hand holding who will likely be stymied. Definitions are overly concise, contain a plethora of references, and assume basic foundational understandings. For instance, the entry for three dimensional space never uses the terms height, width, or depth though it does refer to three-dimensional coordinates. Textual explanations are rare and more attention is paid to "formal" meanings than making the material clear, especially to kids who are already having a hard time. And most examples, if present, are actually diagram images pixelated beyond recognition.

About twenty terms are accompanied by a cool JavaSketchPad, QuickTime, or LiveGraphics3D-based dynamic diagram from McGraw-Hill's Geometer's Sketchpad, but even these lack sufficient labels and took nearly 5 minutes to load. Overall, accessibility is a problem for the kids who need this site the most.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to truly understand math beyond just memorizing formulas and terms.

  • Have your kids explain math definitions in their own words to see if they've grasped concepts.

Website details

  • Subjects: Math: algebra, calculus, equations, functions, geometry, graphing, measurement, numbers, probability, statistics
  • Skills: Self-Direction: academic development
    Thinking & Reasoning: asking questions, memorization, part-whole relationships
  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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