Bradley, Interesting post! Thanks very much for the link to the corpus. Wow, I will certainly be exploring that in the next few days!
I gave wordnik a try on the word "pip". I had recently found "pip" as a clue for the entry "LULU", and wanted to see what wordnik said. BTW my Merriam-Webster has one of the definitions for "pip" pointing to "pippin" which was given as "standout", hence the connection to "lulu".
Here's the link: http://www.wordnik.com/words/pip
Wordnik provides you with an aggregation of definitions from various sources. The usage examples on the right side - which are the added value being promoted - were mixed. One of the examples was an incomplete sentence which made no sense (“In all pairs involving the Japanese Yen (JPY), a pip is the”). The other examples were not useful for my particular sense of the word.
I also looked into the entry for pippin:http://www.wordnik.com/words/pippin
Again I found the examples to be mixed in usefulness, the most useful quote being '... his wife ... was a "pippin" for looks...'.
OK then I looked up slub, a word I hadn't known until recently when my sister used it in our "happy new year" puzzle (shameless plug http://worldofcrosswords.com/?p=15
). Here's the wordnik link - http://www.wordnik.com/words/slub
Once again I found mixed results on the entries: the first couple actually appear to be in Polish
, while several other examples just didn't make sense to me in the context of this word (also they picked up a sentence with "slub-bering").
So it's an interesting idea, may be especially useful in certain cases, but definitely has limitations currently.