If you’ve ever wondered how a word got its start, here’s where you can find out. Think of it as the Ancestry.com of vocabulary:
Online Etymology Dictionary
The Phrase Finder does for sayings and phrases what the Etymology Dictionary does for individual words. It features proverbs, American phrases (it’s a U.K. site), phrases coined by Shakespeare, nautical phrases (particularly welcome for us Patrick O’Brian fans), and phrases from the Bible.
The Phrase Finder: The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases
Do you ever wish you had some biting comebacks at your disposal, but ones that wouldn’t contribute to the cacophony of commonplace crudities so carelessly cast-about currently? Visit the Shakespearean Insulter to generate a few favourites to hold handy in your head, thou roguish elf-skinned hugger-mugger!:
JURN presently offers over 4,500 freely accessible arts and humanities e-journals to anyone who comes e-knocking. It’s not JSTOR, but it’s still a resource to treasure:
JURN : search over 4,000 free scholarly ejournals in the arts & humanities
This is a dictionary of British slang. For those wanting to know about American slang, see below.
Dictionary of English slang and colloquialism…
If you’re wanting to learn some of America’s more colourful vocabulary, then you want the Urban Dictionary, that compendium of all words your mother doesn’t want you to know (and, I recently learned, a good source for definitions of those weird Tweeting abbreviations):
The Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/
For those of us who appreciate the visceral pleasures of a quill pen, this site gives a brief history as well as instructions for cutting a quill:
The Quill Pen