Showing posts with label thesaurus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thesaurus. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roget's Words for Writers Reviewed

Saying it differently

Today I would like to review something I have put on my Christmas Gift List. The Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers is something I could utilize on a daily basis. I have a very worn copy of a general Thesaurus but I think one specifically for writers would my new go to reference.

words for writers
Looking for synonyms: a writer's task
image courtesy of

Anton Chekhov once said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." An author needs to paint the scene for their readers using words. We can have a dull canvas with a lot of the same colors (words) or we can look for colors that are surprising and much more descriptive. Synonyms often assist with our choices.

For instance, I could write this:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's rude response.

So, we know a man was being rude to Anton. What if I found a synonym for rude and changed the sentence to:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's truculent response.

I don't know about you but I envision two different things that basically mean the same thing. Rude makes me think of something that is crude, rough or abrasive. Truculent seems harsher, more scathing, meaner in a way.

Writer's Tool

Roget's Words for Writers is a thesaurus but set-up differently. It isn't the simple word list in alphabetical order that we are used to. Instead it is compiled by meaning with a sample of words that emote the same meaning (such as rude) in more descriptive and emotive choices. It even gives samples of the synonym or antonym in a sentence for you. There are over 2300 words featured in this tool for writers.

I've put this reference book on my wish list hoping one of my girl's will give it to me for Christmas this year. If they opt for something different, I'll just purchase it for myself. I think it will come in mighty handy as I start working toward my goal of publishing a book a month in 2020.

What do you think? Would you use a tool like this? It doesn't have to be for a novel, it could be helpful in several types of writing. Perhaps there is someone on your gift list who would benefit from a reference book like this.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reviewing A Thesaurus

A Most Important Tool For Writing

writing desk
Writing Center image courtesy of
My decision to review a thesaurus in today's post might seem a little lame at first glance. Stick with me for a bit and you will see why I think that every home and office should have at least one available.

I, along with the other reviewers here at Review This, do quite a lot of writing. Most of us write a post here each week while maintaining our own sites in other locations on the web. It would not be far-fetched for me to assume that each of us probably has at least one thesaurus that we refer to often. Mine is sitting right here next to me as I compose this post. I pick it up and use it several times every single day.

Now, I realize that not everyone considers themselves writers, as we do, but that isn't exactly the case. Adults frequently need to compose a letter or a report pertaining to their jobs. (You should know that I just picked up my thesaurus to find a better word for often and decided on frequently in that last sentence.) College students are required to write a term paper for some of their classes. A thesis might be required for many degrees. High school, middle school and even elementary school students will need to write reports about different subjects during the years that they attend school. In all of these instances the person is temporarily a writer. 

Certainly, we all have the option of looking up words (synonyms or antonyms) on an online thesaurus. Those have been available for quite a while. My preference is an actual book that I can pick up and search through quickly. I don't have to open a new window or switch screens. My writing is still in front of me and I can return to it swiftly. (I just used my thesaurus again choosing swiftly over quickly.) See how that works?

Personally, I think that if we encourage our young students to get into the habit of using this tool for their writing needs; we are also helping them practice searching for words in alphabetical order along with spelling skills. Adults will be better adept at this but even they learned at one time the order of the alphabet when looking a word up. Whether the writer is very young, middle-aged or even elderly their finished product will be a much better piece if they have taken a few minutes to find a variety of words to use in their text. Can anyone remember a paper returned from the teacher with several red marks and a note that says, "You used this word 15 times! Choose different words from time to time."

As a writer, it is my desire, to create a pleasant reading experience for anyone who might read what I have written. I don't want to sound repetitive or appear that I have a very small vocabulary. I think whether it is a conscious goal or not; most people who are writing something want it to be received well. A thesaurus can be invaluable for that very purpose.

It is probably no surprise that I think that giving a child a tool that will help them write better is a very good idea. They may not be looking to make a career out of writing but they will from time to time be required to write something. That "something" will be better if they know how to find synonyms to use to say the same thing in a different way. A by-product is that they will have a much better vocabulary.

As I stated before; I use my thesaurus regularly each day. I have found it extremely helpful as I work on my soon to be published mystery book. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

3 Word Books Every Writer Needs: A Review

Writers Need to Use Precise Words

Words are the building blocks writers use to create their books, articles, and blog posts. In this post I will introduce you to three word books every writer needs to have for reference, not counting the dictionary you probably already have. These are the books I consult on a daily basis  as I  write. Do you have all of them yet? If not, it's time to get them. Between them you will always be able to find the right word for your writing project. I use all the books in the photo, but have only reviewed the three that are still in print. If you purchase from links on this page, I will get a small commission from Amazon, since I am an affiliate.

3 Word Books Every Writer Needs: A Review
Image © B. Radisavljevic

1. A Quality Thesaurus

 Oxford American Writer's ThesaurusThe first Thesaurus I normally consult is the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus. I have reviewed this one thoroughly in my blog post, January 8 is Thesaurus Day, along with the old Roget's Thesaurus. I used it because that used to be THE thesaurus, the only one most people used. There are more choices now. Roget's has been updated to dictionary form now, but you can still get a modern version of Roget's that retains the original organizational format if you  prefer it.  Whichever version seems more user friendly to you, a thesaurus is a must-have tool for  any writer. If you are hobbling along with an old version, it's time to update.

2. Descriptionary

A descriptionary is a thematic dictionary. You use it when you know what a word is related to, but not the exact word. Words are arranged according to subject. For this review  I'm using the Facts on File Descriptionary, Third Edition. 

Let's look at the Publishing and Journalism topic, for example. First are general terms, such as byline, circulation, feature,  and other well-known terms and their definitions. Then come fun words -- slang and jargon not widely known outside the industry. Here are a couple of examples I found amusing:

Afghanistanism  journalist's term for the avoiding of local controversy by focusing  news coverage on distant lands. 
blacksmith  an uninspired but industrious reporter who simply pounds out stories day after day.
Also under the Publishing and Journalism topic are Book Publishing, Book Terms, and Headline Types, all with their own lists of defined terms.

A descriptionary is just the book to have at hand if you are writing about a subject you are just beginning to explore that has a lot of its own jargon or technical terms that may not be familiar to you. My descriptionary covers Animals and Insects; Architecture; Art; Clothing; Electronics; Environment; Human Body and Mind; Language ( which far from just explaining grammatical terms, devotes several pages to drug and crime terms, urban street and rap slang, and words about words); Law, Magic and the Occult; Medicine; Military; Music; Occupations (where I found Publishing and Journalism); Performing Arts and Broadcasting; Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy; Religions; Sports; Tools; Transportation; Weapons; and Words and Expressions You Should Know.

That last topic purports to sum up the words every literate person should understand -- the ones you hear on the news or see in magazines, newspapers, and authoritative blogs.  You probably studied most of them in secondary school and were tested on them in college entrance exams. Also included are terms like according to Hoyle, Hoist with one's own petard, and genie out of the bottle. 

Besides providing just the topical words you need for works in progress, The Descriptionary also can give you new ideas for additional subjects to write about. Although I'm using the Third Edition, the  Facts on File Descriptionary, Fourth Edition is now also available at Amazon. If you click through, you will see below the listing a tempting assortment of other word books for writers, one of which is The Master List for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More. Whichever you choose, be sure you have one of these thematic word books close to your desk when you write.

3. Visual Dictionary

A visual dictionary is what I use when I've seen something but I don't know what to call it. Unlike a descriptionary, it only is useful for tangible objects that one can see -- not for ideas and abstractions.  Think illustrated charts and diagrams arranged by subject. Up until now, I've only had my old 1986 edition of the Facts on File Visual Dictionary. Its illustrations are black and white, but they do the job. Unfortunately, this edition lacks most of our new technology, but it was a great help when I was writing my blog post Watch a Forklift Reach Truck Load a Lumber Truck.  I knew nothing about construction or forklifts, except that I was pretty sure I was watching a forklift. I looked under the Heavy Machinery topic and drilled down to Material Handling. There I found my forklift reach truck and knew what to call it.

Today I started searching for something more up-to-date. I was delighted to see that DK had published a 2011 edition of its Ultimate Visual Dictionary. I have sold DK books for years.They combine gorgeous color illustrations with condensed information. The very detailed and cut-away illustrations all have their parts labeled down to the most intricate. I know that because I sat drooling over the 2000 edition at the library today and did not want to put it down. It is inviting and informative. It's easy to get lost in looking at all the attractive pictures. That means even children will want to look at it, but the information is on an adult level. I'll bet when you looked at the row of visual dictionaries above, this was the first to catch your eye.

I wanted to bring the book home with me. The one I own doesn't compare well to it. What The Ultimate Visual Dictionary covers, it covers thoroughly. It does lack coverage of of some more common household objects that are more extensively covered in the Facts on File Visual Dictionary and the Macmillan Visual Dictionary, a volume I also looked at  while at the library. It was a 2002 edition, and it was in color. Both books were  written by Jean-Claude Coreil, so the topics are very similar. Miriam Webster's Visual Dictionary is also written by Jean-Claude Coreil, so I'm guessing it has almost the same content as the Macmillan Visual Dictionary. It is recommended for anyone at least eight years old. It does not have a "look inside" feature as the Ultimate Visual Dictionary does.

One Million Things: A Visual Encyclopedia, is an entirely different animal than the other books. It will, for example, show you lovely pictures of leaves with a bit about each type, but it doesn't appear to show you the parts of a leaf in detail as the Ultimate Visual Dictionary does. I am drawing my conclusions on One Million Things solely by looking  at the few pages Amazon shows me. It's a beautiful book and I think any one of school age and above would enjoy it and learn a lot from it, but after all the books and descriptions I've handled and read about today,  the one I want to buy to supplement my out-of-date  Facts on File Visual Dictionary is still The Ultimate Visual Dictionary.   

Most of the books are used the same way. If you know the word and want to know what the object looks like, you use the index at the back to find the word in its visual context.  If you know the topic area,  you drill down more specific topics until you find the page and illustration that your word labels.

None of the books cover every subject and there is a lot of crossover. I would recommend getting The Ultimate Visual Dictionary and one other. Then you won't miss much. Links to all the books except the Facts on File Visual Dictionary, which has its own text linkcan be found pictured at the beginning of this topic.  If you write and don't have a visual dictionary, you could make good use of one.  Why not get one today?

Never Be at a Loss for the Right Word

If you have a comprehensive thesaurus, a descriptionary, and a visual dictionary, you should be able to find most of the words you need. Then your brain will select the most appropriate one for your context. Sometimes our brains just won't bring the words we know and want to use to mind, especially as we grow older. These books deliver them back to our brains again.

I was also going to include three other books I use often -- The Synonym Finder, the Random House Word Menu, and a rhyming dictionary. They are helpful to have, but not as necessary as the ones I reviewed above. They are, however, in the photo of my well-worn books I used in the introduction

What reference books for words have you found most helpful? Please mention them in the comments. The comment box is just under the related posts, below. The sharing buttons are just below this last photo, which was designed to share on Pinterest. Why not pass this information on to other writers, students, or home school families?

3 Word Books Every Writer Needs: A Review

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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