The Basics of Writing - Thesauruses

Have you wondered how your favorite authors learned to use those great words and phases? The answer is simple: They use a thesaurus. A thesaurus allows you to look up words and find their synonyms and antonyms. This enhances your ability to use language with precision and elegance.

A thesaurus helped me improve this sentence, which is pretty ordinary: Joan played in the street, forgetting the dangerous traffic.

These changes make the scene vivid: Joan frolicked on the highway, ignoring the danger as cars whizzed past.

When you compare the words, you see why: "Frolicked" brings to mind a way of celebrating, while "played" is generic. "Highway" sounds infinitely more dangerous than "street." "Ignoring" suggests a deliberate recklessness, while "forgetting" implies a simple lapse in judgment. "Cars whizzed past" evokes images of speed while "traffic" could be slow or at a standstill.

These are the most popular editions of thesauri:

Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus

As well as providing synonyms like a standard thesaurus, this work combines Roget's conceptual (rather than alphabetical) thesaurus with Bartlett's quotations. Two category lists, concept and alphabetical, a directory of sidebar lists and a list of abbreviations make the Table of Contents easy to use.

 
Roget's International Thesaurus (paperback)
Roget's International Thesaurus (hardcover)

More than 1,070 different categories in this comprehensive, up-to-date thesaurus contain 325,000 synonyms, antonyms, and related words and phrases, as well as the latest slang and commonly used foreign terms. Most words are easily found in the index, which compromises almost half the book. Everything from current slang to old-fashioned expressions is included.

 
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus : The Essential Reference for Home, School, or Office (21st Century Reference) (2nd rev.)
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus : The Essential Reference for Home, School, or Office (second edition)
A thesaurus with A-to-Z format featuring 450,000 synonyms that yield more than one million word choices, with hundreds of recently coined and common slang terms. Features include easy-to-use dictionary format plus a revolutionary concept index that arranges words by idea, making it easier to find leads to scores of additional selections.
 
Random House Roget's Handy American Thesaurus
Easy-to-carry, up-to-date, and low-priced, this thesaurus includes more than 90,000 synonyms and antonyms. Recently updated and revised to include new words, its easy-to-use, alphabetical format includes more than 400 synonym studies.

Also in the Basics of Writing.....

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