1. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    The use of thesaurus'

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by skeloboy_97, Aug 23, 2011.

    While writing and/or editing, do you use a thesaurus or just use the words in your vocab?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both. That is, I only use a thesaurus when I know that there is a word in my vocabulary that's just right, but I can't quite bring it to mind. So it serves as a reminder for words that I already know, rather than an introduction to words that I don't.
     
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  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use a thesaurus about as often as a dictionary - when I know the word I can think of isn't quite right, but the right word isn't in my head. And when I do use it, I tend to have the dictionary right there as well, to make sure of the meaning. But, as CF mentioned, I typically know what I want, I just can't think of it - and after all these years on Earth, if a word in the thesaurus isn't familiar, it's probably not one I want to use anyway ;)
     
  4. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is how I use it, too.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i use both, but don't use a thesaurus often, since my vocabulary is pretty extensive...

    my standard advice to new writers is to never use a thesaurus until you don't need one...
     
  6. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    My favorite app on the iphone in dictionary.com but I mostly use the thesaurus part of the app. I agree with mamma if you don't know the word don't use it but I find searching through lists of similar words useful and fun (much to my husbands dismay).
     
  7. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps if you have a tendency to use certain words repeatedly it can be a good idea to look up synonyms. But also if you're at first draft stage it is more important to write unimpeded and with confidence. Thesaurus usage may be best for tightening up prose at review/rewrite stage.
     
  8. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think I've ever used a thesaurus while writing. I do use it while reading if I come across a word I don't know.
     
  9. Epic0n
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    Epic0n Member

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    My mac comes with a built in thesaurus. I find myself opening the dictionary application almost 10 times every time I write, just to type in a word and check for other meanings. It adds variety to my words when I don't wanna use the same thing a thousand time throughout my piece.
     
  10. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    I'm with everyone else about only using one if you know what you're looking for. :)
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I only use a thesaurus if I can't put my finger on the word that is orbiting just beyond my forebrain. I have to blow the dust off the thesaurus every time, that is how often I use it.

    But I wear out dictionaries.

    I have a pretty decent vocabulary. In the words of Walter Brennan, "No brag. Just fact." I developed it through reading, not by thumbing through a thesaurus.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!

    are you confusing a thesaurus with a dictionary, which is what one would normally consult to learn the meaning of a word?
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've got a wide vocabulary, so I never need one. My advice is to never use a thesaurus for anything other than a reference. When you use a thesaurus to dictate your writing and style then its not really your own, natural voice. I can understand the temptation to use polysyllabic words but you should not try to impress us, just tell us a good story. Good writing is in the subtlety, not smashing your reader over the head with obscure words like 'Eldritch' or 'Gibbous'.
     
  14. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I also read the dictionary for fun but the biggest reason I like to thumb through a thesaurus is that it gives me a better picture of the connotations associated with a word. Often times I know what the words means but the definition doesn't always give as complete a picture of a given word as seeing other words that you might interchange with it.
     
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  15. takecare
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    takecare New Member

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    i do use a thesaurus when i write. as others have said, it helps me a lot when i have the language, i just can't think of the right word quick enough to keep my momentum.

    i don't see anything wrong with it, as long as you know the definitions of the words you are using, and that the language fits with your story.
     
  16. Logan | Aspire
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    Logan | Aspire New Member

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    I honestly don't like to use a thesaurus because in my opinion it takes away the personal touch of a writer. An author's grammar/word selection reflect his/her writing elements and therefore define a writer. Using a thesaurus takes away from that, almost giving the writer a false identity. I'm not saying that it's wrong, this is just my opinion.

    -Logan
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Knowing the definition is not enough. You need to know the connotations of the word, too, all the nuances of meaning.

    It's often painfully obvious that a novice writer has used a thesaurus.

    Beware the feral thesaurus. It will gnaw your bones and worry you to bloody gobbets.
     
  18. Sevvie
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    Sevvie Member

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    My opinion is bunched in with almost every other person who as replied.

    A thesaurus is only beneficial if you are looking for a word that is just out of your reach... a word that you know, but just can't think of.

    I never use words that I don't already know, because then you're just cheating and not using your own voice/style. Generally it is pretty obvious when a writer has just gone on a thesaurus rampage.
     
  19. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    Pretty much what everyone else has said, I only use a thesauraus if I have an idea of the word I already want but can't put my finger on it, or if I have over-used a certain word and want to vary it a bit.

    There is nothing worse than reading something and someone has used the thesauraus, and they obviously don't know what the word means as it doesn't quite fit with what they were saying.
     
  20. therealdjcamm
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    therealdjcamm New Member

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    Yea, i only ever write with the vocabulary i speak with. That's not to say i don't use a thesaurus. For instance, if i wanted to describe something in a certain way but the only adjective i can think of disrupts the flow of the language, i'll take a look at alternatives and use a more suitable word. Again, i would only ever use the words in my vocabulary. I very rarely need to check a dictionary simply due to the fact i wont use words i'm not familiar with.
     
  21. LucifersAngel
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    LucifersAngel Member

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    I love using a thesaurus. I remember once, I was accused of plagiarism in English class. Because I got bored during an assignment and used the thesaurus to learn a synonym. I just like to learn new words. Though, I do hold off using some synonyms if I don't know how they will fit in my story.
     

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