As a writer, words are pretty important, obviously. The words chosen set a time period, a place, reveal personalities, education and so much more. Setting Woman of Ruinous Face in 1912 has required research into conversational mores and usage. This is a list of some of my favorite resources for determinging if a word existed, was used in a certain way and the "spice" words that make the language feel accurate to modern readers.
Determining which website is my favorite is to fire into the brown. So in semi-particular order:
The American and French Rearch on the Treasury of the French Language (ARTFL Project) has created searchable dictionaries and thesaurus in English and French. Of particular interest to me is the 1911 Roget's Thesaurus and the 1913 and 1828 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. The Thesaurus is a gold mine of timely language.
When I feel I am slipping into modern language, the Online Etymology Dictionary sets me straight with origional useages and dates. Another fabulous searchable database of words, I cannot work without this resource.
A recent find, from one of my favotire Resources - Edwardian Promenade - is an alphabetical list of Edwardian slang words, A Glossary of Slang. I use my brower's search feature to make the list searchable. A quick, easy reference for spice words.
And finally, The Passing English of the Victorian era : a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and
phrase. This one is a little harder to use, and pre-edwardian, but fun to browse. It has a search feature, but it's not as useful as a thesaursus.