Learning about words should be easier with technology. Sure you can type ‘define: parvenu‘ into Google to figure out what ‘parvenu’ means; that’s pretty easy. But if you want to have fun too try Virtual Thesaurus. This online service is easy, fun and downright amazing!
As you can see, Virtual Thesaurus creates a visual representation of the word you are looking up, and maps it to related words. A sound icon to the right of the word let’s you click to hear the word pronounced. If you click on the related words (which are hyperlinked) the display changes to place that word in the center which creates an entirely different word map.
A year’s subscription to the online version costs $20 for a year, but it has all kinds of cool features, such as the ability to enter English Words and have it return words in other languages. You can also download an installable version for $29, and it will work on both PCs and Macs.
The most amazing thing about it is the interface, which is optimized to quickly convey maximum information about the word you are looking up. The Washington Post describes it this way: "The whole interface feels almost alive… it’s a rare, rewarding example of a paper-bound process that has been radically rethought…" I completely agree.
You can try it for free, and if you like learning about language you should try it.