1. historymom

    historymom Member

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    Does anyone else write with a thesaurus?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by historymom, Jun 18, 2016.

    I find that I am frequently scrambling for better words - not necessarily fancier, just different - and almost always have my web browser open to a thesaurus page so that I can quickly check my options when I get stumped. Maybe this is because my creativity lacks good flow right now. Granted, my inner critic runs on autopilot, and I rarely have more than five interrupted minutes to jot down a decent sentence or two on my WIP. Having said that, I can't even imagine how people can spill out novels in a matter of months. They must not have kids!

    Am I too anal do use this method of word hunting when I write, or does that seem fairly ordinary to most of you?
     
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Wrting is never clean. :) Contributor

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    I do. Large print for fast hunting of words, Websters Large print from Random House. Guessing circa 1980's or some where in there abouts. :p
    Thesaurus.jpg

    And for definitions of some harder words, I use Funk and Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary 1972. :p
     
  3. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

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    I don't, but I'm lucky enough to have a pretty good vocabulary so I pretty much have a thesaurus installed in my head. And no kids, so I can sit for a minute going "uhhh, shit, what's that word, that one word, the one that's like that other word" without interruption, hahah.
     
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  4. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

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    No. I don't write with a thesaurus. I use a word processor or a pen. Maybe a pencil if I'm desperate.
    (Okay... that was a total dad joke.)

    Yea, I have dictionary.com bookmarked and flip over to the thesaurus all the time. Grammarly will catch me if I repeat some words more than a couple of times in a paragraph so sometimes I need to find alternatives.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I definitely use a thesaurus, but it's a good idea not to rely on them for everything.

    Sometimes an alternative word isn't what you need. What you may need is an alternative way to make your meaning clear. Maybe a different image from the one you're working with, or something like that.

    Most words (I'd say "all" except there are bound to be exceptions) do not have an exact synonym. If you rely on a thesaurus to avoid repetition, what you might end up with is a word that doesn't mean exactly what you want it to mean. Better to get in the habit of trying to find another way to express that exact meaning, rather than dashing to a thesaurus every time you're stumped for word choice.

    However, once in a while, they are great to have and to use. I have two of them. The Roget's and the Collins.
     
  6. Wayjor Frippery

    Wayjor Frippery Contributor Contributor

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    No you're not. Yes, it does. I reckon.

    I mostly use www.oxforddictionaries.com. Almost all entries have a synonyms tab so the thesaurus is built in. I use it constantly, even to check the meaning of simple words that I'm sure I know – I don't want to be fancy, but I do want to be precise, and most words have multiple definitions based on context. I find that fifty percent of the battle is saying what I mean*, so I'm convinced that dictionary/thesaurus use is an indispensable writer's tool.

    *The other fifty percent is the kid problem you mentioned above. Velcro wallpaper and Velcro playsuits is the answer, although that doesn't stop them shouting...
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
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  7. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I use one occasionally. Also, talking to other people, particularly older wise ones, helps me learn new words I might eventually use.
     
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  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I find it a little worrying.

    If you're using it to find new words and then using them without any previous familiarity, I think it's definitely a bad idea.

    If you're using it to roam around in words that you already know, or to trigger your memory to dredge up a word what you know you want but can't quite remember, it's less of an issue.

    If you're using it motivated by, "That word is too simple. Let's find something fancier and smarter-sounding," that's an issue.
     
  9. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Custom Title. Contributor

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    I don't use a thesaurus but i'd be boned without google.

    Google: Small bed that babies sleep in
    Suggestion- Crib

    Ohh, yeah, I totally knew that... now whats that swaddly wrap thing they sleep in called?
     
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  10. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    Blanket. :D
     
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  11. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

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    One time I forgot what saplings were called and googled something like 'baby trees'. Google just thought I must want to buy baby trees :\ But hey actually seeing pictures of saplings reminded me what they're called so it worked out.
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I thought it was just me doing this. Sometimes I even do it so I can assemble an alliteration. :)
     
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  13. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I use it mainly because I'm trying to joggle for the right word. I'm kinda going well it's got to do with rage ( or whatever ) and then I flip to see what's under the heading of anger and rage. And then I might go with indignation or ire or verify that rage was perfectly fine to begin with. I don't use it to find better words though. I don't believe there is such a thing as a better word just the right word for the right moment.
    The other reason I use it is when I'm going for sound, syllables, looks. Just recently I picked the word jut ( paired with jut out ) but didn't like it's hard one syllable ( especially doubled up ) in the sentence and went back to what I originally wrote.

    I had a free thesaurus on my old computer and I used that for years. But since I got my new computer a few years ago I find I use a thesaurus less and less. When I turn to one though it's - Rodale's The Synonym Finder.
     
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  14. Zorg

    Zorg Member

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    I use one but sparingly. I don't want to give a character too much of a vocabulary that doesn't meet their personality.
     
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  15. Justin Rocket 2

    Justin Rocket 2 Senior Member

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    I don't write with a thesaurus, but I do write with a dictionary. Remembering synonyms is easy for me, but making sure the synonym has the right denotation/connotation is something I sometimes have to work on.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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  17. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Thesaurus.com. Its for when I reach for the word and I know the flavor and feel of the word, but can't get my verbal centers kicking. Thesaurus.com is a jump start.
     
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  18. Miller0700

    Miller0700 Contributor Contributor

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    I use the thesaurus on Word occasionally.
     
  19. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I often have thesaurus.com open while I write, but I almost always use it when I can't think of the word I want. You know when a word's at the back of your mind and you can't bring it forward?

    I rarely use it to find alternative words for something. I'm a big fan of using simple language, and if *I* don't know a word I don't expect readers to.
     
  20. BC Barry

    BC Barry Member

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    I began writing without one until I re-read a chapter and realized I'd typed obviously or obvious a whole 17 times in that one chapter.

    Then I realized it was time for the thesaurus.
     
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  21. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

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    It's not always about finding a fancy word. Sometimes I just can't think of a simple alternative until I look at the thesaurus.
     
  22. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    That'd fall into the first sentence of my post then, wouldn't it?
     
  23. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

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    Yea, it does. That post was done before coffee.
     
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  24. Holoman

    Holoman New Member

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    Yes I use a thesaurus a lot, because my memory is so bad I just can't think of words, and I end up using the same word repeatedly and need to find an alternative. Or I may think of a word that doesn't quite fit what I want to convey so I look for synonyms.

    If it breaks my flow, sometimes I just write any old word in there and underline it, so that I know to change it when editing. That's one good way to just let yourself write without the interruptions.
     
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  25. obsidian_cicatrix

    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I don't. I have a fairly broad vocabulary, and can generally provide several synonyms for any given word on demand. (It's a bit of a superpower of mine; maybe it's what makes up for the fact that, otherwise, my memory is shit poor. I can't even remember what I had for lunch yesterday.) I will, occasionally, second-guess my usage, which sends me scurrying for a dictionary, but a thesauraus, no. I've seen writers make very poor word choices, ones that obviously have been conjoured from book rather than brain. They seem lacking, or conversely seem overblown.

    I can understand why, for some, a thesaurus is a necessary tool of the craft, but word choice has always been something I've pulled from my gut. It's not something I ever have to think much about when I'm writing, unless on reflection I'm after a change in tone. It's almost as if my brain assigns a mood related, emotional tag to each and every word. Knowing what mood I'm aiming for is generally enough to pop the right word to the fore. I'm something of a nervous chatterer in real life, think that might have something to do with it.

    Now if I could only remember how to spell the damn word. ;)
     

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