When I write, I often have to use a thesaurus. Maybe I can’t come up with strong words to say what I’m trying to say, or I’ve used the same word too many times. When I go back through and edit my work, I’ll consult a online thesaurus for alternative words. But there are many other ways writers can use a thesaurus, and many different thesauruses available for writers to use to improve their writing.
Ways to Use a Thesaurus
Writing papers — I first learned to use a thesaurus when I was in high school, to look up different words so I didn’t end up plagiarizing. When I saw a word that didn’t fit what I was writing, or found that I was using the same word all the time, I would open my thesaurus and look up the word, and try to find other words to use instead.
Creating speeches — Speakers can also benefit from using a thesaurus. Many speeches center around one main theme, so a thesaurus can come in handy when trying to find similar words. This type of speech holds the audience’s attention and still convey the speaker’s message.
Find new research ideas — If you’re researching an idea that’s confusing, start by looking up the main idea in a thesaurus. You might find other meanings and words that appeal to you that cause you to think of a direction to take.
Learn the meaning of an unfamiliar word — If you find a word you’re not familiar with and don’t have a dictionary available, a thesaurus can help you learn the meaning of the word.
Writing poetry — Poets will often use thesauruses to find new words to use in poems. They can find thesauruses especially helpful when they’re trying to write a poem that has a rhyme scheme or specific meter.
Rewriting a paper or article — If you have to re-write something, using different words can help your piece become more exciting and effective, or create a stronger result.
Improving the quality of your writing — Papers shouldn’t have the same word repeated over and over. Readers will be much more interested in your writing when you use different words.
Back in the day, thesauruses were only available in book form. Now, there are all sorts of different thesauruses available on the Internet. Here are a few:
Thesaurus.com — This is the one I use most often. In addition to providing synonyms, thesaurus.com also provides antonyms, and you can look up definitions o the dictionary.com tab.
Merriam-Webster — In addition to providing synonyms, antonyms and a dictionary, you can also find related words and idiomatic phrases in Merriam-Webster’s online thesaurus.
Collins — Collins provides all the same things has Merriam-Webster. In addition, they also provide word translation for different languages, and English word lists, a grammar guide, and articles that will help you get better at Scrabble, if you enjoy playing that game.
Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus — Thinkmap is a little different. When you type in a word, it shows you a mind map of different choices you have. You can also deepen your understanding of words and meanings with concise definitions and examples, use VocabGrabber to analyze the vocabulary in any text, build customized word lists on different themes, read about language and teaching, and play their Spelling Bee game. With all these features, this website does have a cost to it. You can pay $2.95 a month or $19.95 a year. You do get to try the website for 14 days first before committing to it, though.
I hope this post has deepened your understanding of why a thesaurus is a good tool to have, the different ways you can use a thesaurus, and some of the different thesaurus websites available. If you use a thesaurus in ways other than the ones I mentioned, or have other favorite thesaurus websites, please feel free to comment. To celebrate National Thesaurus Day, why not pick up a thesaurus and use it to improve your writing?