Corpus of Contemporary American English
Suppose you find the word brooding
in a short story and you don't know what it means. You could
simply look it up in a dictionary, and you'd find a definition like
"cast in subdued light so as to convey a somewhat threatening
atmosphere". But the collocates lists provide
a much better and complete "word sketch". You can really "feel" the
meaning of this word by seeing what other words it occurs with.
A dictionary would tell you that sprawl refers to "growth" or a "spreading out". But the collocates show that it refers particularly to the growth of cities (city, suburban, farmland), that it may be more common in the Southern US, that it is associated with pollution and congestion, and that people are trying to reduce, stop, and fight against it.