Common Sense Media says

Too many links, ads detract from online dictionary's value.





What parents need to know

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.

Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns. The site will ask for personal information for subscriptions and may share that information with third parties for purposes specifically associated with related services, but does not take personal information from kids under age 13. The site uses a significant number of cookies and beacons to track the online behavior of visitors to the site. Also, the site includes a plethora of links that are not guaranteed to be safe.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Pricing structure:Free

This review of Merriam-Webster was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 17 year old Written byDelfino Perez. November 11, 2010
Kid, 10 years old August 31, 2011

the awesome website

i just used it and its awesome
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old July 30, 2009

Good Website!

This website is GREAT! My little sister used it, and it helped. But she kind of needed better examples from the definitions. It's helpful and it's just like the actual dictionary!
What other families should know
Educational value


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