The diagram you see on the right-hand side of every dictionary page is a representation of a particular word’s family. In English, many words are closely related to other words, so closely related that we deem them to be in the same family. The Usage diagram indicates how these words are related, and how frequently each word from the family is used in the wild.
What you can Learn from a Word Family Diagram:
For example, take the word significant. Significant is part of the sign family.
Significant Word Family Display
From the usage diagram, you can determine the following:
- The significant group that contains significant also includes other words that are used fairly frequently: insignificant and significance.
- The significant group is the most common of the groups derived from the signify group. It is more common than other closely related word groups like signifying, signifies, and signified. (You can see these by rolling the mouse over the gray rectangles that do not have words showing.)
- If you roll over significant (or any other word or gray box representing a word), you can see how frequently that word appears. In the case of significant, you can expect to see that word once every 90 pages.
- If you roll over the sign family, you can see that a member of the sign family appears once every 21 pages, so it is a fairly common word family.
Navigating with the Word Family Diagram
Clicking on a word in the diagram does one of two things:
- If the word has a separate definition page in our dictionary, you go to that page.
- If the word does not have a separate page, you go to the page that shows the closest related word. For example, if you were to click on signs in the above diagram, you would go to the sign page.
In either case, the Usage Examples will reflect the word that you have clicked on, so even though you are on the sign page after clicking on signs, you’ll see usage examples with the word signs in them.