en•gage (verb): to hold the attention of; engross

Remember the days of flipping through a dictionary? Me neither. With the internet, Google and Wikipedia, in our vocabulary-challenged moments, we simply go online and type in the word to learn its meaning. No need for clunky physical dictionaries or those extra seconds spent recalling the order of neighboring letters in the alphabet.

A few months ago, I was Googling synonyms of a word for an article I was working on. The first website that came up was Mirriam Webster’s site. I immediately felt a pang of pity for them, thinking, What on earth could they be doing for business nowadays, and online? Probably not much since people don’t need dictionaries anymore.

I was incredibly mistaken. The site is filled with great, captivating content! And I’m not just saying this as a journalism geek (okay, maybe a little). They have made the most of their content with great videos, quizzes, facts, tutorials and more. Here are a few of my favorite site features:

The Year in Words 2011. This is a list of words in 2011 that spiked in lookups because of events in the news, organized by date. For example: “Rampart” lookups spiked on February 7, 2011 – the day after the Super Bowl because during her rendition of the national anthem that preceded the game, Christina Aguilera botched the lyrics and never sang the words “O’er the ramparts we watched / Were so gallantly streaming.”

New Words & Slang. You know that word that really should be in the dictionary? Until it actually makes it in, here’s where it goes. It’s a collection of user-submitted words. Pretty interesting stuff.

Video tutorials. Ever wonder the origin of a word? These cute little videos explain to you in a couple of minutes the history behind our language’s most interesting words. So. Much. Fun.

Finally, my favorite: Word of the Day. They have a section of the website for the WOD but you can also get an email with WOD. My favorite WOD so far: Bumbershoot, which is a fancy way of saying umbrella. And yes, I try to use that word every time it rains.

As we’ve all said before in the business of online marketing, content is key. Good, engaging content means  you’re creative value for your visitors, and visitors mean ad revenue, sales and brand awareness. Miriam Webster took the online space and made it a place for people to come and enjoy, when their business was rooted in a traditional medium. And that’s truly engaging.