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HALL OF FAMEon November 26, 2005
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.
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on August 15, 2002
I started word processing with good old Word Perfect for DOS - which was the "Cadillac" of its time. It had a fine Thesaurus utility. Alas, my printer died and when I got a new one, it would not "speak" to my old Friend WP DOS. So I was forced into Billy Gates' Microsoft Word - and the Thesaurus just isn't as good.
Tardily, (one could argue from my previous reviews,) I broke down and got this "Library Binding" (good choice! Durable, but not as expensive as hard cover) book. It combines the best of both approaches - Dictionary and "concept" groupings. I have perused the beginning and end and parts in-between, but have found no symbol key. It appears, though, that an asterisk* after a suggested replacement cautions slang, for instance - "affront: ... dump on*" But how then to explain:
"good: acceptable, ace*, admirable, agreeable, bad, boss*,..." Note that there is no asterisk appearing after "bad," which is properly not accepted as a synonym for "good."
Nonetheless, if one is savvy ("acumen, awareness, comprehension...") enough to avoid potential pitfalls and detrimental reliance, this is a pretty good book. The bad news is that, in order to fit all this good stuff into a portable 957 pages, the print/font is reduced to "I'm old enough to remember the entire uncut first release of Inna Godda Da Vida and I gotta squint and move the page in and out to read this" size.
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on December 17, 2000
then the world will be well ordered, is what Confucius thought. This idea was so dear to his heart that he said the first thing he'd do if he were to rule a state was the rectification of words: "Let the ruler be ruler, the minister minister, the father father, and the son son".
Mr. Roget surely did not think the influence of his work would go that far. But his thesaurus, available now in the second edition of "Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus", is a very useful tool nevertheless. On over 950 pages it lists 20,000 words from ABACK (meaning "taken unawares", which is what I was when I found this treasure in the Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore for the equivalent of just 3 US Dollars) to ZOOM (meaning "move very quickly", which is absolutely not recommended when indulging in this book). As a decent thesaurus should do, the Roget gives you a 'meaning cluster' for every listed word. In addition, for every listed word there is a reference to the unique Concept Index at the end of the book. The Concept Index is an extension of the original idea of a thesaurus, which basically groups words according to idea. That is, the thesaurus leads you from a single word to a group of related synonyms. The Concept Index, on the other hand, shows you the semantic ocean in which the word floats. Or, to quote the editors: "The Concept Index not only helps writers to organize their ideas but leads them from those very ideas to the words that can best express them." (remember: "the rectification of words"). How does that work? The Concept Index is grouped in ten categories. One of my favorites is called "Fields of Human Activity". Under this category one finds the sub-category 'communicative', for example, which contains all the useful words for book reviews from 'abusive' to 'zany'.
If you love words, this is your book. If you want to have fun with words, this is your book, too: where else would you learn that the idea of a BUSINESSPERSON (concept no. 348, for those who want to look it up) contains not only the banker but also the cyberpunk?
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on January 25, 2001
"Thesaurus" is Latin for "treasury", but all the editions that I came across in my long search of a good one had been anything but. They were either too bulky or too brief, severely abridged or arranged by concepts (!) with alphabetical index at the end. Looking for the right word in these circumstances caused me excruciating pain, both mental and physical. I was in great danger of being sucked in by a tornado of strange, confusing, irrelevant words.
Thankfully, I discovered this book. And what a treasury it is! The dictionary format, 450,000 entries, 1 million word results, a wonderful concept index on the back which shows how a word fits into a pool of similar ones - these are only some of the many highlights of this edition. Not only do I keep it by my side every time I sit down to write, but often look into it for pure pleasure, partaking of the wealth it stores.
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on October 1, 2002
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus is simply a must when traversing through wordy literature, writing essays, or just simply looking up definitions and synonyms. I had been using the online thesaurus and Roget's New World Thesaurus, but due to their lack of completeness and their continual ability to frustrate me to no end I ordered this handy version.
I found Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus to be surprisingly complete(957 pages) for its low price. Particularly useful is the Concepts Thesaurus at the end of the book where it lists 837 concepts and their synonyms such as action verbs and abstract qualities according to their subject and usage. I often find myself perusing through it in order to increase my vocabulary or just for fun when I'm bored. A must have for everyone.
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on August 29, 2001
I've bought several thesauri over the years, including good ole Roget's International, but this one by Barbara Kipfer is by far my favorite because it strikes just the right balance between ease of use and comprehensiveness. Roget's International is undoubtedly the king still for comprehensiveness. Unfortunately, Roget's International is also the most onerous to use, so much so that I rarely ever touch it anymore. Other thesauruses on the market in dictionary format, such as Roget II or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus, are very easy to use, but unfortunately they have few synonyms under each entry. This thesaurus by Kipfer, on the other hand, is just right. I give it five stars.
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on November 3, 2003
I never use my online thesaurus because it always seems to fall short, sometimes laughably so. With Roget's dictionary format thesaurus, I'm able to page with ease through several entries to locate the exact word or phrase I want. I can skip through the hilarious substitutions to locate the one perfect for my needs. Because I grew up using the dictionary format, I find myself at ease in this newly updated version that includes many entries of contemporary phrases.
Thesauri should be used with care, as the numerous choices can end up making sentences overly formal and stilted. If used sparingly, however, this volume makes a strong addition to any reference shelf.
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on July 30, 2001
This stinker is in DICTIONARY format. DICTIONARY format is not, to use a euphemism, for the (another euphemism) intelligensia.
The thing is overfat and the typeface is so tiny not even my best bifocals are not able to [whoops! need a REAL thesaurus].
Go for the Roget's International. That one is in TRADITIONAL format: a word list in the back with reference to a number leading to a logical IDEA-ORIENTED section towards the front.
This stinker is nothing more than a LEXICON FOR DUMMIES!!!
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on February 8, 2000
I have only one thing to say. I spent about US$200,00 in a electronic dictionary that also has thesaurus. More than once, I have found thesaurus in this book that I have not in the electronic one. Its Concept Index, where words are arranged by idea, is very good. You won't need any other synonym dictionary. It could be a real five star if it has included antonyms, which is not a big problem. If I were a little bit less exigent, I would rate this book as a five star one.
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on January 12, 2001
This is a great reference. I love the way it's arranged in dictionary form. As well as original alternatives for words it also includes slang words, which is nice for writing. It is 957 pages long, not including the introduction; but the number does include the Concept Index. The actual thesaurus is 889 pages long and is in quite small print. It's a second edition and just like it says on the cover, it's easy to use. It is edited by the Princeton Language Institute.
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