Writer’s File: Visual Dictionaries

I heard visual dictionaries could be a great resource for a writer.  Don’t know what an ocean’s floor looks like?  Want to see how many muscles are in the human hand?  Check out your handy visual dictionary.

Because sometimes, you just have to see it to describe it.

So I was very excited when my husband bought me this visual dictionary a few years back.  But I have to say, I don’t use it much.  It has really in-depth pictures of dinosaurs, human anatomy and even indoor plumbing.

But I’m looking for more basic things, like what a person’s face looks like when they’re screaming or even what that door is called on a barn where the hay comes out.  What is that called?  And why isn’t it in my visual dictionary?

What I like to do is a Google image search like “woman screaming” and then go from there.

What do you use?  Are there any visual dictionaries that you recommend?

  1. I have helped build four barns, two with haylofts, and, as far as I know, the door the hay drops through, down into the stalls below, is called a door, sometimes trapdoor, but nothing rare or exotic. In a search, all I found was another name for hayloft – mow, rhymes with wow. I love that, might use it myself in something or other.

    My favourite dictionary is ‘Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Fifth Edition’, based on the second edition of the Webster’s International, copyright, 1936, although I must adjust the spellings to Canadian. It contains most of my cherished words, and it’s illustrated in that venerable line-drawing way that is often all I need.


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