on August 9, 2003
After getting many years of excellent service from the 3rd Edition (bought new for $$$) I decided to 'upgraged' to 6th Edition. For the most part a great tool and highly recommended. Especially if you are new to a good thesaurus. HOWEVER - every silver lining has its cloud!
The paper used for the pages appears to be a high grade newsprint. Probably is a bit better than that, but after the brilliant white, sensually-thin paper of the 3rd Edition, a bit of a dissapointment.
The word lists: A real dissapointment! In the 3rd Edition index there were special entries when a pertinent word-list existed. Under COAL, there would be an entry "Types of ~ 330.10". Sadly this handy feature has been left out of the 6th Edition - you have to stumble across the word lists by luck.
So my 3rd Ed. will remain a backup. I wasn't sure what to do with it anyway...
on February 21, 2004
"Roget's International Thesaurus" is organized by subject as opposed to alphabetically, although all words are also indexed in the back. Which type of organization you prefer will depend upon your needs and tastes. If you are looking for a thesaurus that will simply give you the most and best alternative words, an alphabetical thesaurus such as Rodale Press' "Synonym Finder" is easier to use and more efficient to that purpose. On the other hand, "Roget's International Thesaurus" has traded ease of use for versatility. If it's a synonym you seek, look it up in the index, which will direct you to the appropriate section and subsection. There, you will find synonyms for your word, and if you let your eyes wander up and down the page perusing the contents of that section, you will also find words related to your subject, including antonyms. The part of speech for each word is always given, and abbreviations for "nonformal" and the origins of foreign words are provided for clarity. There are no word definitions. Section/subsection numbers are conveniently found at the top of each page to aid in locating words. If you have no idea what word you need, you can consult the list of 1,075 categories in the front of the book, which will direct you to words related to that subject. Word lists are another of the book's useful features. If you are looking at the subject of lakes, for example, you are provided with a list of the world's major lakes. Other examples include a list of words describing different types of engraving found in the graphic arts section, and over 100 types of ceramic are listed in the ceramics section. A short biography of Peter Mark Roget, the 19th century physician whose work was the basis for all subsequent thesauruses organized by subject, introduces you to the book, followed by a short explanation of how to best make use of this thesaurus. I think that most students will prefer an alphabetical thesaurus to this one. But if you do a lot of expository writing, Roget's organization by subject could prove invaluable. Since I do a lot of writing and have somehow deluded myself into viewing shelf space as endlessly expandable, I have found that having both "Roget's International Thesaurus" and "The Synonym Finder" is the best way to go.
A thesaurus is an indispensable aid for writers - sometimes the right word is just on the tip of the tongue (or, more to the case, perhaps the tip of the finger), but refuses to come forward. Sometimes one has high praise for something, but doesn't want to use the word 'super' over and over again.
Roget's thesaurus has multiple styles of entries - main entries highlighted from the text, subentries that are very close relatives of the main entries, secondary entries that lead back to main entries cross-referenced, and variant spelling forms of words. For the main entries, there is a definition of dictionary variety before the synonyms are presented. Sometimes words have multiple meanings, and the synonym for one meaning might be inappropriate for another meaning, so the main entries break down these multiple pieces for ease of use.
Primary entries have definitions, usage examples, and synonyms; secondary entries lack the examples, and cross-reference to major entries. Homographs (words spelled the same way with different meanings) are also split into multiple entries based on this variation of meaning.
Roget's Thesaurus also uses standard dictionary labeling, so that one can identify the part of speech (noun, verb, etc.), as well as other identifying information (slang terms, informal, regional, etc.). Variations are very interesting to discover, as different words have meanings that go beyond their standard usage.
A thesaurus is a very valuable tool for those who wish to increase their vocabulary, as well as increase the richness of their spoken and written language in actual practice - it is not uncommon for one to know the words listed, but to have the presence of mind to use alternative words is another matter. Dipping into a thesaurus on an occasional basis yields rewards; plunging in on a regular basis will really enhance the command of the language.
There are few sources as adequate to the task as Roget's.
on August 16, 2003
If you just need a different word that is easier to spell or say, a dictionary of synonyms will usually suffice. And that is all that an alphabetically organized thesaurus is. Their advantage is that you only have to do one lookup in the book instead of two, making them quicker and easier. A true thesaurus requires that you look the word up in an index to find a numeric index, then look up that numeric index in the body of the book to get a choice of synonyms.
But the true thesaurus will give you a better supply of answers. First, the numeric entries either preceding or following frequently are opposing concepts. That means that if you go forward or backward two entries, you may strike on a subtle change in meanings that fits your intent much better. This had happened to me several times when I couldn't quite get the right word. It was because I didn't quite have the right meaning. Second, because all of the 'answers' are printed once, there is room for more of them. In a simple example, assume 5 words are considered synonyms. For a dictionary of synonyms, that means 5 entries listing 5 words each (the entry and its four synonyms), for 25 words. A true thesaurus lists an entry number in the main body with 5 words, and 5 entries of one-word-one-number in the index. Counting each number as a word, that is 16 words. That I can add 3 more synonyms (3 words in the entry in the body, 3 word-number pairs in the index) in the same amount of space. For larger groupings of words, the difference is much more significant. So now I get 7 choices (8 less the original word) instead of 4 (5 less the original word).
Mark Twain claimed that the difference between a good word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. Lightning strikes more often with a true thesaurus than a dictionary of synonyms.
on April 3, 2002
This is the best thesaurus out there but what happened to the printing? The paper is now thicker and cheaper feeling. The binding looks substandard. The thumb indexing is now every two hundred sections rather than every one hundred. I prefer the feel of the older editions. Ths is too bulky and less attractive.
on November 20, 2001
They took a step backward with this 6th edition. I was set to replace my well-worn 4th edition; but no longer... The typesetters replaced the 4th edition's rather nice crisp clear font with one that is much less so. Perhaps this isn't a big deal if you're merely looking up a term here or there; but if you actively study your thesaurus, I suspect this edition will drive you nuts. Ms. Kipfer are you listening?
on December 29, 2012
The organization of this thesaurus caught me by surprise. Instead of having all the words listed alphabetically,and giving synonyms for each word, this book sets it up differently. It has different categories in the index, such as feelings, weather, the body, etc., and then lists numerous words relating to that category underneath. For example:
- legs 134
Each smaller 'category' would have a number beside it, which would be where you would find it in the book. These numbers aren't page numbers, but are like the Dewey Decimal System. Then, within each smaller category there are even smaller type categories, and these categories look more like the type of thesaurus I described above. In the back, it has another list of words in alphabetical order, and here it tells you where you can find these words within the thesaurus.
This book, being different than what I am used to, will take some getting used to, but it still is a very detailed and accurate thesaurus, and it contains more words and synonyms than most you would find.
on June 21, 2004
Back in the days before Amazon introduced their handy-dandy instant-review-posting feature, this bad-boy was a very handy tool in my constant battle to get my product reviews past those pesky Amazon editors in a reasonably unmolested state, and posted on the site for all to see. You see, sometimes an editor would cut a seemingly innocuous word or phrase out of one of my reviews, and then either replaced it with an inadequate substitute word/phrase, or nothing at all. For example, the word [...] seemed to bother a few of Amazon's cagier scrutineers. I tried to use the word in a couple of my reviews, but it had gotten cut out both times. Not satisfied with a set of ellipses where [...] used to be, I'd whip out the thesaurus to find a suitable substitute. Let's see now... hmmm... it's an adjective... first synonym is [...]. Nope, that's not the one I'm lookin' for. [...] close, but not quite. [...] nope. Finally, I came to [...], and found me a winner! Possessing the proper substitute that I hoped would squeak my write-up by Amazon's scrutineers, I'd resubmit the review with [...] in the places where [...] used to be, and a few days later it would show up on the site in its (almost) original state!
Unfortunately, this thesaurus isn't always a big help where slang terms are concerned. Well, except for those delightfully obscene words of the four-letter kind, but that's another story altogether. For example, in one review I stated that a certain product "kinda [...]" (and yes, I elaborated on why it did indeed [...]). When the review posted, the word [...] was replaced with "was [...]", which I considered an inadequate substitute. Unfortunately, the thesaurus was not all that helpful with vernacular synonyms for the word "[...]". But I did take a look at similar listings for [...], and found what I was looking for with [...]. I redid the review by saying the item "was kinda [...]", and it went through without a hitch.
As for this book's format: at first, I wasn't too hot about how the words and their synonyms/antonyms were arranged. The primary arrangement is by subject (classified into such groups as 'Feelings/Emotions', 'Measurement', and the like, then further refined into various sub-groups), rather than the usual alpha order. At first, I considered this so-called 'improvement' more of a hindrance than a convenience. But after dropping my 'I-don't-need-to-ask-for-no-stinking-directions" façade of machismo, and taking a look at the 'How To Use This Book' section at the very front following the Introduction, I found this once-bewildering format surprisingly convenient! Sometimes it helps to read the instruction manual, you know?
on March 26, 2002
Believe it or Believe it not, the first edition of Peter Mark Roget's Thesaurus was published exactly 150 years ago (1852). Even more astonishing is the fact that he produced the initial version of his book nearly fifty years before that - in 1805!
Of course there are plenty of other books around which date back far farther than that - Shakespeare, the Bible, Milton's Paradise Lost, and so on - but the books that last are normally prose works, like those I've just mentioned.
What's so impressive, to my mind, is that Roget hit upon a way of producing a *reference* work which, in all this time, no-one has been able to improve upon.
(There ARE other books purporting to be thesauruses (thesauri?) but Roget's original format is still the best.)
As a writer I'm particularly aware that one of the cardinal sins, in fact or fiction, is to re-use a distinctive word twice in the same sentence, or even in two distinct sentences that are close together. In fact it causes trouble even if you use two variations of the same word in close proximity - as I hope I've just demonstrated with "distinctive" and "distinct".
The reason this causes problems, of course, is because the reader's flow is interrupted as they sort out which instance of the word they just read. You read the second occurence of the word and think something like "One minute, I just read that, now I've read it again - or did I lose my place and simply re-read the original word a second time."
What you need, then, is TWO words which mean the same thing - which your trusty Thesaurus is just waiting to provide, offer, supply, give, etc.
So, Roget's Thesaurus rocks!
BUT, there is a potential downside, so be warned -
Once you start using Roget's Thesaurus, you may well find that you begin to love words. You start off looking for a simple synonym and you notice an unfamiliar word nearby, so you go off to look at it. Next thing you know your simple search has turned into a pleasant browse through the riches of the English language.
You may even find your day-to-day vocabulary swelling beyond the mere 2,000-3,000 words that most people get by on. You may find that you can express yourself more clearly and precisely. People may enjoy listening to you, or reading what you have written ...
Good grief, is that the time!
Buy this thesaurus - you'll never regret it, honest, really, Scout's honour, it's a fact, you can count on it!
on March 12, 2002
If you love to write this book is an invaluable resource of words and ultimately knowledge. This book is designed to compare words. By using this Thesaurus repeatedly you will increase your knowledge of words and their usage. You will increase your mastery of the English language. It is a fundamental tool of the trade.