Thesaurus use

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by booksofkae, Sep 10, 2019.

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  1. booksofkae

    booksofkae New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I forgot that Roget's existed!

    I feel a trip to the used bookstore coming on....
     
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  2. booksofkae

    booksofkae New Member

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    Same. I am a voracious reader, so I feel like my vocab is decent (especially compared to my colleagues!), but trying to catch that word flying about in your brain is so different to being presented with a word and thinking 'hey, I remember you!'
     
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  3. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    If we're gonna get picky, they're interchangeable in the dictionary. The preferred term though when one is feeling nausea is nauseated. Nauseous is also interchangeable with nauseating, as in your example, which is one of the reasons it's falling out of favor: It's simultaneously ambiguous and redundant, which is a bad combination. :D
     
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  4. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    My favorite is Rodale's "The Synonym Finder." I just find it gives the best possibilities.
    My second favorite is Roget's. I feel bad saying "second" because I once wrote a really long story about him and feel this sense of obligation, like we're buddies. Oh well. It's still a really good resource.

    Most of new words that I actually use come from my kindle. It keeps track of everything I look up under "Vocabulary Builder." Then I can review later. Now I'm curious . . . my last ten words were:
    toque, ossuaries, farrago, calabash, egalitarianism, croton, velour, paregoric, wadi, couture​

    Of course I know what egalitarianism is, but you know how it goes. Sometimes it helps to see the exact definition so you're not wandering someplace you shouldn't be.

    I use a thesaurus to adjust words/phrases that don't fit. It's not about sounding smarter or more poetic, it's just about getting the sentence to hold. Certain words cling tight to their neighbors and others sit there loose. It's kind of an 'opposites attract' issue. And there's lots of different ways to contrast them. It helps to see a list. It's not like I use it every time, just when the phrasing is broken.

    Sometimes I'll see a word and it'll give me an idea for a story. I have one written around "factotum." It's about a drug-addled Howard Hughes type and his helper. They go to Venezuela to find the bones of his father. I guess that's another reason I like a thesaurus. All I need is an unusual word to get a story going. There's lots of ideas in it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  5. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    .jpg
    I love this book. Instead of being split front and back, each page is split top and bottom. You look up a word. The definition is on top, and the synonyms are on bottom, and both are far more comprehensive than dictionary.com. I agree with just about everyone here that you should never use a word unless you completely understand it. English is a subtle language. There are very few words that share identical definitions. It's all about connotations, associations and lingual subtext. Still, with a memory like mine, I need a thesaurus frequently, and if I'm not 100% sure I understand those slight differences between two words, I can always find usage examples with a quick internet search. Yes, purple prose can be a problem, but tell that to Nabokov or Bradbury. If your style is poetic, or you have a particularly pretentious and loquacious character, you're going to need those S.A.T. words now and again.
     
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  6. booksofkae

    booksofkae New Member

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    Toque, like the obligatory Canadian winter hat? Toque, like the pom-pom bearing ridiculous, nationalistic symbol of Canadians' ability to survive the push of winter winds? Toque, like the thing that sits under my bed growing dust because the UK doesn't know what winter is? That?

    Out of curiosity, what else would you call them?

    A toque by any other name is not a toque.
     
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  7. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    I have to admit, that sounds convenient. Because I read dead tree books almost exclusively I'm forced to keep my tablet or phone beside me to look up words.
     
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  8. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    It's not a typical word in the US. Down here it's more of a historical usage.
     
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  9. Hammer

    Hammer Senior Member

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    LoL


    I read on Kindle predominantly but usually have a couple of library books on the go. I do get frustrated when reading the "dead trees" that I can't just stab a word with a fingertip to get a dictionary definition and etymology.
     
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  10. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    I pause my audiobook and yell at Alexa if I cross a word I don't know. She's pretty helpful when she hears me right. If it's a good one I'm afraid I won't remember, I look it up and star it on the dictionary.com app on my phone. Their "word of the day" alerts are pretty cool. I save those now and then too.
     
  11. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    The principal asset of a thesaurus is to remind you of words whose precise meaning you already know, not words that are unfamiliar to you. You can get into a lot of trouble pursuing the latter course.

    One of the reasons I'm so fond of my half-century-old "Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language" is that it will not only list synonyms, but explains how their nuances differ. That's bailed me out on countless occasions.
     
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  12. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    When I lived in the US, they called them a beanie.
     
  13. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    Granted, you don't want to blindly use a word you find in a thesaurus, but if you come across a new word, or even a word you've heard but aren't sure you know, there are plenty of resources to help you learn and understand that word. I can't think of a single reason not to pursue the definition and proper usage so you can incorporate it into your vocabulary. A word discovered in a thesaurus has no less value than one you happen upon in a novel. Context clues in a sentence can be a total crap shoot anyway. You might even start with a better understanding of a word surrounded by its synonyms. Either way, you want a firm grasp on the dictionary definition and common usage before you try to use it, but I've learned plenty of words that way and even inserted them directly into my story then and there. It doesn't work out that way half the time, of course.

    In fact, half the time I use a thesaurus, it isn't because I need variety or "smarter" vocabulary; it's because I need a more concise or apropos word than the one I have in mind. Sometimes that involves learning a word or two in the process, which is something I enjoy anyway.
     
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  14. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Most of the info in the posts above are in the utilising synonyms thread. Y’all know this yes?
     
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  15. booksofkae

    booksofkae New Member

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    I don't, but I am very new to forum. I must have not searched hard enough for it. I'll look it up. Apologies for the duplication.
     
  16. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    :whistle:
     
  17. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    In my experience, a beanie is a semi-rigid sort of skull-cap, whereas a toque is a soft cap, usually knitted, with enough extra material to cover the ears if necessary. But I could be wrong.
     
  18. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    Around here, they called them toboggans when I was a kid, and now beanies.

    ETA: The knit ones.
     
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  19. StoryForest

    StoryForest Member

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    I use thesaurus.com also but recently found one I like better which is https://www.powerthesaurus.org
     
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  20. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    I sure didn't, but in fairness to the OP, have you ever tried to use the search function on this site to see if your question has been answered before? Just for fun, punch in the word "thesaurus" and see how long it takes to find the Utilizing Synonyms thread. I'll save you the trouble. It doesn't come up in all thirty pages of results. Ditto to a search for the word "synonyms." Redundancy is inevitable. Embrace it. Redundancy is inevitable. Embrace it. :D
     
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  21. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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  22. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Ahhh, I actually meant the red herring bum steer thread. Sorry T’was a ploy, a muse ruse. Was being too vague methinks with an allusion to a perceived paradox: you know like when someone asks “what’s another word for thesaurus?”
    And in explaining I have retroactively and from hereon removed the smallest jot of humour I imagined I was conveying.
    *falls on sword* What’s another word for corpsing?
     
  23. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    :bigoops: Oh. Oops. Sorry. It sounded exactly like a real thing, so I missed the joke. My bad. Plus I saw about a dozen other thesaurus-related threads during my cursory search, so...
    :brb:
     
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  24. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I liked it @SethLoki, I was there for you.
    ...
     
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