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Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Need a Word

Main Entry: thesaurus
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: dictionary of synonyms and antonyms
Synonyms: glossary, language reference book, lexicon, onomasticon, reference book, sourcebook, storehouse of words, terminology, treasury of words, vocabulary, word list

Swiped from Thesaurus.com


I love my thesaurus. My husband bought it for me six years ago when I first said I wanted to write a book and since then, my copy of Roget's Thesaurus has gotten quite a bit of a mileage. I also have a couple thesauruses (looks like a dinosaur name) on my iPhone for handy reference.

I once had a discussion with a writer who claimed he never used a thesaurus. That seems sacrilegious. I have a pretty firm grasp of the English language, but sometimes I just need a thesaurus to help me think of the right word. And occasionally I come across something new.

For example, instead of reaching for my thesaurus, I can now grab my onomasticon. Spellcheck doesn't even recognize it as a real word, but it sounds great. Of course, when using a thesaurus, I have to beware of falling into the tarpit of really great sounding words that stop my story in its tracks. That's bad. Very bad.

Do you use a thesaurus? If so, how often?

BTW- I just posted my interview with agent Mark McVeigh at Secret Archives of the Alliterati.  Check it out!

25 comments:

Medeia Sharif said...

I don't use my hard copy at all. I go online and use the thesaurus on dictionary.com. I don't use it too often.

ann foxlee said...

I use the same one Medeia uses, and I use it EVERY single time I write. It's like words just leave my head when I'm trying to remember them, and I sit there saying, 'it's sort of like this, but with a twist that makes it have a feeling of that too...now what the heck is it??' And then I go to the thesaurus and find the word I wanted, or sometimes an even better one I hadn't thought of.

I totally *heart* the thesaurus. I have come close to making it my homepage several times....

I do agree that sometimes you have to watch out for exotic words that sound fabulous but are just too odd for normal usage. I have to stop and think if a 'normal' person would have to look it up, and whether that's acceptable or not (because sometimes it is good to teach people something new, and sometimes it just takes away from the experience)

Lorel Clayton said...

I try to stick to my regular vocabulary when writing, but I love my thesaurus when I'm looking to expand it. It's especially helpful when I *know* there's a better word and it's right on the tip of my tongue but I can't remember it.

Libbie H. said...

I got a copy of Roget's Fifth Edition for Christmas when I was thirteen years old. I have kept it near to me ever since. I love it. I might also have been the only thirteen-year-old girl to ever be really excited about receiving a thesaurus as a gift.

Gary Corby said...

My Roget's is above my head as I write this (on a shelf, not floating in the air like a halo). I use it 3 or 4 times a week. I've yet to find an online version as good as the printed.

Katie Ganshert said...

I love my Thesaurus too! It's on my book shelf. It's huge! It's called the writer's thesaurus.

Matthew Delman said...

I purchased Rodale's Synonym Finder a few years back on the advice of my editing professor. It's thus far served me leagues better than Roget's ever did.

It sits (as of this moment) on the shelf in my closet with a bunch of other papers.

Jenna said...

All the time. I use both the built in thesaurus in Word (which sometimes is effective but is in general somewhat useless) and my little Roget's SuperThesauraus. Couldn't live without it!

Dominique said...

I have a hard copy of Roget's Thesaurus that I found helping my director clean out some storage. I love that thing. Just because I can't use the word viridescent in a novel doesn't mean it isn't fun to know.

Still, as thesaurus lovers, we do need to be aware of Rogetting our books. We can't load the story with fun but obscure words, because we'll risk losing reader comprehension. Pity.

Susan R. Mills said...

I use a thesaurus all the time. Like you said, sometimes I need a little help coming up with the perfect word. I'm heading over to your interview now.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love my Roget's International Thesaurus. I use it all the time. But my new favorite is the The Bookshelf Muse. It's brilliant.

L. T. Host said...

Loooooooove thesaurus.com. It's saved my butt a fair number of times. I find looking up different ways to say the same thing often really gets me thinking about my story, too.

Bane of Anubis said...

I rarely use a thesaurus beyond Word's built in one unless I know the specific word I'm thinking of, but just can't recall it.

Amalia T. said...

Most often I use my thesaurus when a word is on the tip of my tongue but I can't for the LIFE of me remember what it is, but I know what I'm trying to say. So then I find a similar word and go hunting for the one I know I wanted until I recognize it and like magic, my tongue is untied and I can get on with my writing. I use an online Thesaurus and also a Roget's and Word's, depending on what is more convenient to me at the moment I'm stuck.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I hoard thesauruses. (Yes, it does sound as if I'm talking about dinosaurs). I have an old treasured one from high school which is in pieces - but which helped me write many debate speeches. I have new ones as well - each has different words listed.

I use them when I KNOW the word I've written is bland and 'just not right'. I do endeavour, however, (look, I rhyme) not to sound as if I've swallowed the thesaurus.

Falen said...

I use a thesaurus quite frequently - but only because, when i'm in the midst of writing, i often find myself at a loss for a specific word i need and the thesaurus helps to jar my memory

Natalie Murphy said...

I have several scattered around my house, but I tend to stick to the online ones. They're much quicker when I'm writing away.

I tend to use it quite a lot. I hate repetitive words, so I try to stir it up a bit-- nothing outlandish though, lol.

Tamika: said...

I'm with L.T.! Using a thesaurus gets my writing juices going and I'm ready to create.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I seldom use my hard copy, but I use the computer one quite a bit. Love it! :-)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE my thesaurus, too! In fact, I could use a new one :)

Elana Johnson said...

I do use a Thesaurus, especially if I have to use a word repeatedly. I just use the lame one in Word though... Or the internet. Yeah, I'm one of those. Le sigh.

Off to the other blog!

Lisa and Laura said...

Yes, I love my thesaurus. I think it's handy dandy. Heading over to check out the interview...

Jemi Fraser said...

I've used the thesaurus more this time around - for my Steampunk novel. It really helps me create names for the "stuff" I invent. :)

VR Barkowski said...

I, too, use a thesaurus mainly for jogging my memory - usually an online version. Occasionally, I go to my "real" Roget's. It's important to have a good vocabulary and to understand word subtleties before you consult a thesaurus, though. Otherwise you can get into serious trouble.

Lola Sharp said...

I LOVE and use mine all the time, because I don't like to over-use words in my books. (if I never see the word 'chagrin' in a book again, it will be just fine with me.)

I use Writer's Thesaurus (oxford american)--I think it is the best one out there for writer's. It's BIG, but worth the weight.
I own Rogets too, but it just doesn't cut it compared to Ox-Am Writer's.

I also LOVE my Oxford 2-book MAMMOTH dictionary.

~Lola