It’s one of those reference tools that clearly illustrates the argument for occasionally moving beyond Wikipedia. Launched back in November, Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary Online offers definitions for more than 20,000 terms with audio pronunciations, as well as "more than 6,000 stunning illustrations of a wide variety of objects from all aspects of life."
Search, or choose instead to browse 15 broad themes: astronomy, earth, plants, animals, humans, food, housing, clothing, arts and architecture, communications, transportation and machinery, energy, science, society, and sports and games.
The featured Game of the Week, invites players to associate words with a group of images. This week’s game, on conifers, asks: "As you admire the decorated trees around you, can you tell a fir from a spruce?" Sadly, I cannot.
I can, however, identify glassware quite well. (See below.)
There’s stuff here to meet the needs and curiosity of students, teachers (ESL folks especially), parents, homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, and others. It looks like lesson plans are coming too.
How about an iGoogle widget/gadget?