100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You’ve Never Heard Of

Beyond Google, Wikipedia and other generic reference sites, the Internet boasts a multitude of search engines, dictionaries, reference desks & databases that have organized and archived information for quick and easy searches. In this list, we’ve compiled just 100 of our favorites, for teachers, students, hypochondriacs, procrastinators, bookworms, sports nuts and more.

Dictionaries and More

When you need a quick definition or want more specialized results that display synonyms, rhyming words and slang, turn to this list that is perfect for students or writers.

  1. OneLook: This no-frills online dictionary lets you look up basic definitions, related words, phrases and more. You can even customize your experience with different searches.
  2. RhymeZone: Type in a word to find rhyming words, synonyms, definitions, Shakespeare references and more.
  3. Strange and Unusual References: Head to this site to look up all-vowel words, magic words, magic archetypes, how to identify unicorns and other odd material.
  4. freedict.com: This online translator can find words in Dutch, Afrikaans, Russian, Portugese, Swedish, Japanese, Hungarian and more.
  5. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: Search through topics like technology, American history, literature in English, proverbs and more to become a more "active citizen in our multicultural democracy."
  6. Word Spy: Search for a specific word to bring up funny quotations and a definition, or you can browse categories and sub categories like aging and death, hacking and hackers, entrepreneurs, jargon and buzzwords, art and design, drugs, euphemisms, sleeping or cell phones.
  7. Slang Site: Look up Web words, slang and even made up but often used words here.
  8. Behind the Names: Find out the history of your name or search names by categories like English, Spanish, mythology, Biblical names, African and more.
  9. Directory of Occupational Titles: If you’ve ever wanted to know the official name of your job, look it up here.
  10. Glossary of Real Estate Abbreviations, Terms and Phrases: Get through your next home signing by doing some extra research on this site.

Teacher References

Teaching guides like these will help you double-check facts, look for relevant quotes, find different careers in education, and get ideas for lesson plans.

  1. Twain Quotations A to Z: Inspire (or confuse) your students by throwing out a Mark Twain quote every once in a while. You can search by subject matter.
  2. Math Glossary: Look up words and concepts like abacus, Thales’ theorem, obtuse triangle and a lot more in this special site.
  3. Biology Website References for Students and Teachers: Learn about evolution, cell chemistry, anatomy and genetics from this list of reference sites.
  4. Children’s Literature Web Guide: Look for award-winning children’s books, readers’ theatre sites, stories published online and more on this site.
  5. Charles Dickens Gad’s Hill Place: Use this quote page to search by topic, title, or phrase, or pull from The Daily Dose of Dickens book.
  6. Encyclopedia Mythica: Search for text, quotes and history of mythology, folklore and religon. Categories include Greek people, Celtic mythology and Roman mythology.
  7. American Memory: The Library of Congress’ American culture and history reference site features topics like environment and conservation, immigration, women’s history, Presidents, religion, maps, literature, African American history and others.
  8. ASL Browser: Look up American Sign Language signs here.
  9. Ditto: Search the web for all kinds of beautiful images on this site.
  10. Learning and Performance Glossary: From accelerated learning to guidance package to meta skills, this glossary is full of education terms for teachers.

Librarian References

Librarians will benefit from these great reference sites, some of which were designed just for or by librarians.

  1. A Glossary of the Humanities: Click on a letter to look up words, phrases and concepts that use references from Foucault, Burke, Frye and others as definitions.
  2. Library of Congress Online Catalogs: We’re pretty sure most librarians have heard of this site, but it’s seriously one of the best reference sites on the Web.
  3. Historical Text Archives: This site boasts nearly 687 articles and 70 books about history, especially American history.
  4. KidsClick!: This educational search engine was created by librarians and teachers and is organized by topics like society and government, machines and transportation, health and family, facts and reference, and a lot more.
  5. Library Spot: This great reference site has links to encyclopedias, Top 10 lists, business references, public libraries and a LOT more.

Just for Fun

Search for unique profanity, sex terms and ridiculously long words here.

  1. The Dialectizer: Paste a URL into the box and select a dialect like Redneck, Cockney or Elmer Fudd to have the whole site translated.
  2. The Devil’s Dictionary: This adapted version of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary contains words like brute, gallows, damn, wrath, and X.
  3. Sexual Dictionary: Look up quotes for "doin’ the wild thing" here, as well as other slang terms for sex.
  4. Grandiloquent Dictionary: Impress your friends by using huge words you found here.
  5. Roger’s Profanisaurus: Have fun looking up profane words at "the ultimate swearing dictionary."

Health Care

Instead of Googling your symptoms, use these authoritative reference sites to get drug information, find a hospital and research a disease or condition.

  1. Medline Plus: Look up anything to do with health care on this site from, prescription drugs to local resources to symptoms and diseases.
  2. RxList: RxList is "the Internet drug index," and you search by prescriptions dispensed, names searched or just by letter.
  3. Google Directory – Health and Medicine: Categories and individual web pages are listed on this Google reference site. Browse topics like health news, history of medicine, medical dictionaries or patient education.
  4. Patient Care: Columbia University Medical Center lists a number of patient resources, including tools for finding a doctor, dentist and hospital.
  5. MediLexicon: At MediLexicon, you can use the medical dictionary search, hospital search, medical abbreviations search or read all the latest medical news.
  6. InteliHealth: This reference site has an Ask the Expert section, as well as a database full of information for diseases and conditions, from asthma to digestive issues to weight management to STDs.
  7. Healthfinder: This government site features a Drug Interaction Checker, a Health Library and consumer guides.
  8. The Merck Manual: Search this online medical library for diseases and conditions and drug products.
  9. Bristol Biomedical Image Archive: Browse thousands of biomedical images on this site.
  10. Online Medical Dictionary: This simple search tool lets you browse by letter or subject area.

References for Students

From homework help to art definitions to almanacs, students at traditional or online colleges will find reference material here.

  1. Online Music Theory Helper: Order flash cards or look up different theory lessons on this site.
  2. ArtLex: Browse this art terms dictionary for historical context information, definitions and more.
  3. The Works of the Bard: Use the Shakespeare search engine or browse plays by category to get references and text of Shakespeare’s works.
  4. Factmonster Reference Desk: Here, you’ll find an almanac, homework center, atlas, dictionary and encyclopedia for younger students.
  5. Little Explorers Picture Dictionary: Students learning to read will find pictures to go along with their definition results.
  6. Distance Education Glossary: If you’ve recently enrolled in a distance ed course or program, use this glossary to help you navigate your new education portal.
  7. HyperHistory Online: There are over 2,000 files on this site, on all kinds of world history topics like politics, religion, culture, science and special events.
  8. Style Guides and Resources: This reference list will help you out when you need to write a paper using APA, MLA, and other special citation systems.
  9. Statistical Resources on the Web: Find updated statistics on everything from agriculture to business to labor to housing to the military.
  10. RefDesk: Check your facts quickly and easily at the RefDesk, which features a site of the day, thought of the day, and plenty of multi-search tools.

Niche Sites

When you need to look up highly specialized materials and facts, look to these niche sites for help with online conversions, transportation and military acronyms, legal help, career help and more.

  1. Dictionary of Metal Terminology: Search online or order the hard copy version to find metal-related words.
  2. Online Conversion: Convert "just about anything" on this site, which understands over 5,000 different units for date, time, density, energy, acceleration, angles and a lot more.
  3. Transportation and Logistics Acronyms: Find acronyms for the U.S. government and military, supply chain systems, transportation, trucking, freight and more.
  4. Harry Potter Glossary: If you’re behind in your Harry Potter reading, use this extensive glossary to help you sort out all of the characters and unique vocabulary.
  5. Videoconferencing Glossary: Even non-techies can understand the fundamentals of videoconferencing thanks to this website, which lists definitions for words like analog signals, camera presets, bps, continuos presence and others.
  6. Everybody’s Legal Glossary: Nolo’s legal glossary is designed for everyday people who need help understanding traffic tickets, real estate forms, and "hundreds of legal terms, from the common to the bizarre."
  7. All About Jewels: Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry: Find a picture of each gem or jewelry and learn about its minerals, fashion history, gravity and colors.
  8. Dictionary of English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions: ESL students and curious native speakers can search this dictionary to find idioms like "part and parcel," or "gnaw your vitals."
  9. WestNet IT Glossary: Search results for IT words bring up definitions, a list of related words, animations and graphics.
  10. Travel Industry Dictionary: Look up words and acronyms like gay friendly, day rate, WAPTT, recall commission statement and more on this site.

Search Engines

Search engines are unique Internet reference guides. Read this list to find lots of search engines besides Google.

  1. Giga Blast: Giga Blast is still in beta form, but you can search websites, images and video.
  2. MsFreckles.com: Cute little Ms. Freckles gives you all the tools to conduct a meta search here.
  3. Kart00: Here, you have the option of only searching English pages or the entire web.
  4. Gimpsy: Gimspy specializes in "active sites for active people." You can search by verb or action, by filling in the sentence "I want to…"
  5. CustomSearchEngine.com: This site is a link directory for Google’s custom search engine.
  6. Rollyo: This highly customizable search engine lets you enter a keyword or phrase and then select specific categories to search, like travel and hotels, health, celebrity gossip and more.
  7. Ms. Dewey: Your off-the-wall host Ms. Dewey flirts, sings and offers silly trivia or analysis while you search.
  8. Ulyssek Search Engine: You can view your results organized into categories on this site.
  9. Cha Cha: This creative search engine makes you feel like you’re sending a text from your cell phone when you search.
  10. FactBites: FactBites is "where results make sense" and is touted as a search engine crossed with an encyclopedia.

Open Source Sites

For open source materials that also serve as reference guides, use this list.

  1. DataParkSearch Engine: Use this open source search engine to find multilingual sites, pull up "fuzzy searching based on acronyms and abbreviations" and find text files, mp3s and .gif files.
  2. Wiktionary: Wikipedia’s free dictionary is a collaborative, multilingual resource.
  3. Open Library: This user-generated book catalog has over 13 million books in its library.
  4. dmoz: dmoz is an open directory project, where you can search for or edit topics and results for kids and teens, reference materials, business, health, arts and more.

Internet and Computer Reference

Non-techies and experienced web workers may want to brush up on Internet and computer terms by searching these sites and glossaries.

  1. CNET Glossary: Use this glossary to look up network terms.
  2. Glossary of Internet Terms: From ADN to Meta Tag to SDSL to cgi-bin, find definitions of Internet terms here.
  3. Chat Stuff: This short dictionary has translations for popular chat acronyms like AFK, BAK, and BCNU.
  4. McAfee Virus Glossary: Learn about online threats and computer security by browsing this authoritative glossary.
  5. Tech Encyclopedia: Look up a specific word or click to get a random definition each day.
  6. What Is? IT Dictionary: Browse categories like personal computing, call centers, cheat sheets, authentication, network hardware, compliance, Linux, storage management, Telecom, robotics and a whole lot more for tech definitions.

Consumer Research and Public Information

Use this list to find customer reviews, a currency converter, small business directories and more.

  1. USA.gov: Search all kinds of government information here, from public safety to jobs and education to taxes to voting.
  2. Pricewatch: Look up low prices on computer hardware, electronics and other gadgets here.
  3. Small Business Big World: This is the "almost free" site for finding local and international small businesses.
  4. Kelly Blue Book: Here you’ll find all kinds of consumer information about new and used cars.
  5. XE Currency Converter: Transfer euros, USD, Canadian Dollars, UK pounds, Algerian dinars, Chinese yuan and any other currency here.
  6. Hoovers: Hoover’s is "your one-stop reference for business information," and you’ll find industry overviews, business reports, and a lot more.
  7. ZoomInfo: Research an industry (like teaching or law) or company by using this business search engine.
  8. Stock Market Yellow Pages: Search for stocks on this search engine, which pulls results from Forbes, Yahoo!, Wall Street City and other sites.
  9. SeatGuru: View layouts of airplanes so that you can easily pick your seats on your next trip.
  10. Zillow: Find homes, get mortgage information and search loans on Zillow.

News and Pop Culture

Discover pop culture references, a sports almanac, new literature guides and more in this list.

  1. Who’s Alive and Who’s Dead: Keep track of which famous musicians, performers, actors, athletes and political figures are alive and which ones are dead.
  2. AllMusic.com: Search by genre like rock, jazz, pop, world, rap or blues.
  3. Dictionary of Pop Culture References: From A to Z, you can find words, phrases and characters from pop culture.
  4. Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Browse topics like Japanese art, astronomy, horticulture, popular entertainment, domestic life, conservation and more on this authority site.
  5. Science.gov Energy and Energy Conservation: Find new and archived articles about energy conservation here.
  6. Internet Broadway Database: Look up directors, actors and more for all Broadway shows here.
  7. Grove Music Online: This site is "the world’s premier authority on all aspects of music."
  8. bibliomania: Over 2,000 classic texts can be found on this site, as well as reference books, study guides and links to buy books.
  9. Sports Almanac: From the Olympics to hockey, you can find everything there is to know about sports history and players on this site.
  10. Newsknife: This reference site ranks the top news sites by each particular story, by month, homepage resources and other categories.
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