The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus Mass Market Paperback – Feb 1 2006
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For more than 150 years, in print and now online, Merriam-Webster has been America's leading and most-trusted provider of language information. All Merriam-Webster products and services are backed by the largest team of professional dictionary editors and writers in America, and one of the largest in the world.
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Using it for about a month now has been an endless source of frustration. Almost every word I seem to look up has a one sentence definition followed by a reference to another word, where the synonyms actually are. So I have to flip to that page. It is 667 pages long and yet it seems very few of the entries are actually useful. And when I finally get to a page with a lot of synonyms, I rarely seem to find the right word that I want, for whatever reason. Just a massive disappointment.
I'm currently deciding between The Oxford Writer's Thesaurus or Roget's College Thesaurus and when either of them arrive, I'm throwing this thesaurus into the trash. It's wasted much more time than it was worth.
This thesaurus is great when convenience and quick access to synonyms are essential. It's as fast as looking up words in a dictionary, compared to the old Roget's style which takes about twice as long. So that makes it useful when writing school papers, magazine or online articles. Probably also if you're writing "popular fiction" or pop songs. But if you're writing "literary fiction" or serious poetry -- when you really have time to find the right words -- I'd recommend the older Roget's type instead.
But it's a mass market paperback, designed for speed and convenience. For that, it succeeds in spades.
If you're interested in the history of dictionaries and thesauruses, you might enjoy the recent The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published. And if you simply love words and playing with them, check out THE Book of Word Games: Parlett's Guide to 150 Great and Quick-to-Learn Word Games.
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