Website review by
Karen Wirsing, Common Sense Media
Merriam-Webster Website Poster Image
Too many links, ads detract from online dictionary's value.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Positive Messages

The site encourages expanding vocabulary and improving memory.


Definitions of violent words are included (assassinate, kill, murder, etc.). These definitions are direct and to the point, but not the purpose of the site.


Definitions for words like "vagina" and "penis" are proper and not glorified.


Curse words such as "s--t" and "f--k" are included, but definitions remain tactful.


There's a link to the Merriam-Webster store, and the site is chock-full of ads and pop-ups. Advertisers include Disney, AT&T, eBay, Subway, and much more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Definitions of drugs are pure definitions, but they do include street names. Sponsored links for "marijuana" did bring up outside links to equipment on growing it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Merriam-Webster is a useful site that includes a complete dictionary and fairly informative encyclopedia. All definitions are purely educational and straightforward. The "English-Spanish" section is helpful for translating words and understanding verb conjugation, and the "Medical" section translates medical jargon into layman's terms. Also, users will enjoy the age-appropriate, word-focused games that improve both vocabulary and memory. Ads (both sponsored and banner) do appear on every page, and links of the sponsored advertisers lure people off the site -- occasionally to iffy material (the "marijuana" entry provided a site on how to grow pot, for example). There's also a store to buy hard copies of Merriam-Webster products.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywhyatb April 12, 2019

NOT FOR KISD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


(sorry for the caps lock m... Continue reading
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byDelfino Perez. November 11, 2010
Kid, 12 years old January 2, 2021

Best Dictionary

The dictionary has a lot of words! Those words can build children's vocabularies and adults' vocabularies.
Kid, 10 years old August 31, 2011

the awesome website

i just used it and its awesome

What's it about?

Does your kid shy away from flipping through the 1,000+ pages of your old print dictionary to find a word's meaning? Simply point him to the search field on M-W.COM and he'll be able to get the definition in seconds. There's also the thesaurus, the Spanish/English dictionary, and the medical dictionary to search on. You'll get the word's uses, variations, and an audio clip of how words are pronounced -- one cool thing on the site that the print version just can't offer.

Is it any good?

Merriam-Webster is a wonderful and reliable source for information. The Spelling Bee Hive -- a section about the National Spelling Bee -- the age-appropriate games, the vocabulary quizzes, and the Word of the Day will be of particular interest to kids. These functions add to the charm of learning online.

Unfortunately, the multitude of ads that appear on every page can cause the site to run slowly, and ubiquitous links easily lead users off the site where privacy and safety are not guaranteed. Print versions are available for purchase and are an option for avoiding unwanted online interaction. Membership for the online unabridged version is $29.95 a year; collegiate is $14.95.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about using a trusted source to get information online. Why is it often better to go to a site like Merriam-Webster than to Google to find the best age-appropriate, reliable information?

  • Families can also discuss safe sites to browse. How can you tell which sites you can trust? How do you stay safe online?

Website details

  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: December 13, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning new words

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