1. Cady36
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    Cady36 Member

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    Sweet little online subscription Thesaurus tool...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cady36, Jan 31, 2009.

    http://www.visualthesaurus.com/

    This is a subscription site ($2.95 per month, or $19.95 per year). They have a very short free demo you can run. The instant I saw it I had to play further, so I signed up monthly, and will go to a year if it looks like I'm using it. If I change my mind within 2 weeks, they'll refund my 3 bucks. They also have a desktop version you can buy for $39.95, and due to my sucky satellite connection, if I decide to buy it, that's probably the way I'll go.

    I don't use a thesaurus much. I use one if I have a word on the tip of my tongue and just can't get there, or if I have a particular word/description/theme that's drilled home and I need a variety of words. e.g. In my current work-in-progress there are lots of variations of spark, sparks, glittering, etc...thesaurus was invaluable in varying this.

    I hate writing that *sounds* like you used a thesaurus, and I generally find online thesauruses (thesauri? lol) frustrating because they're slow, and I have to sort through to find a noun, say, in the midst of a bunch of adjectives and verbs. They just don't work the way I think.

    This little gem, though, is different. It allows you to explore how the words relate to each other - it's easy, and fun, and kind of addicting...I haven't figured out if it's really *useful* yet - lol. (I've been using it all morning on a section rewrite I've been doing, and it's helped a lot...but it's easy to get sucked into it and waste time if you're in love with words.)

    It offers several different ways to explore words, all in a "mind map" format - search for a word and it will build a diagram with a word "constellation" around it...click on a word in the constellation, and it becomes the center word, with a new group of words sprouting off of it.

    They give you synonyms, plus similar words (and use each in an example sentence); "see also" links, a bunch of other stuff.

    You can add limits so that, for example, it only brings up nouns or adjectives or whatever, which is really useful for those words that are used in all different parts of speech.

    It's really hard to explain this little program...you sort of have to see it. You can get to the very short demo with the link above, plus they have links to a couple of videos in the middle of this page: http://www.visualthesaurus.com/howitworks/

    Just thought I'd pass that along.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen it. I didn't think it was worth paying for, I have a hardcopy thesaurus, which I don't use very often. Besides, a Thesaurus is a dangerous tool, since it often encourages writers to use words they don't thoroughly understand.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    As well, there are resources you can access for free that do pretty much the same thing. Most word processors have them, as well as dictionary.com.
     
  4. Cady36
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    Cady36 Member

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    Rei: No, I have lots of links to thesaurus resources; I've never seen a free one or a word processor one that does anything CLOSE to what this does. It's graphical. It's a completely different animal from WP/Online thesauruses. (I got the link from an ad on Dictionary.com, btw - I have a dictionary.com tool bar on my browser.)

    Cognito: Yeah, we'll see. It was worth 3 bucks to me to try out. As I said, I'm not big on thesaurusesesesi, and not thoroughly understanding a word is one of the reasons. And I hate writing where you can just TELL the author used a thesaurus - it always strikes me as off and awkward.

    I have 3 hard copy thesauruses/thesauri (finally stopped and looked that up, and either is legal) and I rarely use them, though my husband sometimes does for NYT Crosswords - lol.

    I use them mostly to find that word that's on the tip of my tongue, that I can think of zillions of synonyms for but can't put my pen on the actual word. Sometimes, though, the word that I'm looking for is two spaces removed from the synonym I have in mind, and this program is great overcoming that obstacle.

    This program works the way I think. I found "tip of my tongue" words in 15-30 seconds as opposed to 5-15 minutes. (Yeah, I'm obsessive about being efficient, but...*shrug*)

    Anyway, my biggest problem right now is that it's easy to get distracted by, which I *don't* want. We'll see how it works out over the next coupld of weeks.

    C.
     
  5. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Thesauruses are very fun, but they usually provide words which only have a superficial resemblance, rather than being a facsimile in meaning.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen to that!... if you don't use a dictionary along with the thesaurus, to make sure that 'perfect' or 'better' word you found really means the same thing and can be used the way you want to, you'll be at serious risk of writing the kind of pretentiously pompous gibberish that i see here all too often and have to deal with on a nearly daily basis, when working with my 'mentees'...
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I agree with Mammamaia.

    Just speak on the voice that is natural to you.

    If you feel at home using a simplistic volcabulor; use it, if you are ashamed of the simplicity of your writing and want to change it to include more complex, esoteric words; get over your self!

    Often in fiction (both professional and amateur) the use of complex words disrupts the flow and ease of the reading. And in the end what are you really trying to do? Appear intelligent or tell a story?
     
  8. Jack
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    Jack Contributing Member

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    Some people (Like me) must use distinct and yet Powerful words (My words tend to be repetitive at times).

    So, I just use this...

    http://thesaurus.reference.com/

    Its free, reliable and dependable; I use this everyday. (A dictionary is also included)
     
  9. Zcreative
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    Zcreative Contributing Member

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    Wow I never thought that I could be using a word that make's no sense in the context that I want. I'm gonna use a Thesaurus sparingly now.
     
  10. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I do a lot of thesaurusing when I can't think of the word I want - a word I know, but can't think of. I'm terrible about sitting at my desk going "it's not light....it's not sparkliness...it's not shiny...it's not...showy...sounds like....aaah.....OPULENCE!"

    Thesauri are invaluable to someone like me, lol.
     
  11. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    See, opulent is one of those words that no one knows, but just now having heard it, I feel that it SOUNDS powerful.

    It SEEMS like it means 'rich and luxurious'.
     
  12. Cady36
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    Cady36 Member

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    Yeah, that is mostly when I use a thesaurus, is for those "Damn, it's just on the tip of my tongue" kind of words. The "the words only have a superficial resemblance" argument, for me, is an argument to USE the thesaurus, because the reason I'm using of it is because I'm already thinking of the wrong word.

    I do use thesaurus.dictionary.com - I have it on the toolbar in both of my browsers. In fact, it was from an ad on that site that I found this program.

    Right now, I have the desktop trial version of the app, and so far I often have better luck with it than with dictionary.com for tracking down a missing word. Still haven't decided if I'm keeping it, though. It's kind of resource-heavy.

    (And I do know and use the words "opulent" and "opulence" - does that make me weird? lol)
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    True, most aren't as wacky as this, or done in an interesting visual way. But I have seen one website that does the exact same thing that you do not have to pay for.
     
  14. Cady36
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    Cady36 Member

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    Wow, Rei, if you remember what it is, please let me know. I've got 25 days to either buy or dump this software, and I really like it.

    It's not that it's visually interesting for me. It's just sort of works the way that I think...I love the way that the word I am looking for doesn't have to be that close to the word I'm using to search. I can type in something vaguely related and in just a couple of clicks, be at the right word. The 3d rotation really works for me.

    I especially love it when it's 5am, like it is now, and I've been up all night writing and I dump my vocabulary into the wastebasket with my overflowing ashtray.

    Used that puppy a LOT tonight, to find words like, um, "place" and "passed". (I'm not kidding - lol - I think it must be bedtime.)

    Let me know if you remember where you saw it!

    Thanks,

    Cady
     

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