How to Use a Thesaurus to Become a Better Writer – #20072

Loading☐ Mark this lesson as complete.

How to Use a Thesaurus to Become a Better Writer – #20072

Do you struggle to come up with the perfect vocabulary word to describe your thoughts? Read the lesson below to learn how using a thesaurus can help you become a better writer.

what is a thesaurusDEFINITION OF A THESAURUS

Roget's ThesaurusA thesaurus is a reference tool that is used to locate synonyms (words that are similar in meaning to a particular word.) Thesauri (the plural of thesaurus) are traditionally published in print form, but are more conveniently available—and more easily searchable—online.

Thesauri can be used to clarify the meaning of an unfamiliar word when its definition in a dictionary can’t be understood. This can be particularly useful for a nonnative speaker, because the range of synonyms offered by a thesaurus might include at least one word that he or she already knows. These synonyms could provide the necessary clues for the nonnative speaker to figure out what the original word actually means.

Here are a few popular online thesaurus options:

why use a thesaurusWHY A THESAURUS IS HELPFUL

The most common use of a thesaurus is to avoid word repetition, the potentially monotonous overuse of a term in writing or speech. Similarly, a thesaurus is used to identify replacements for words that seem too common or dull, e.g., “see” might be replaced by “view.” The alternate vocabulary suggested by a thesaurus can be used to create texts that are more interesting because of the richer language that is used.

To illustrate how helpful this can be, consider the following example of a monotonous sentence; note how the vocabulary suggested by a thesaurus makes the subsequent revised version more interesting:

Original sentence:
A thesaurus is used to find words that are interesting to use in place of other words and is used to make texts that are more interesting.

Revised with a thesaurus:
A thesaurus is used to identify vocabulary that is interesting to utilize in place of other words and is employed to create texts that are more engaging.

why use a thesaurusHOW TO USE A THESAURUS

Synonyms of AskIf you want to substitute a new word for one that you have used too much, simply look the word up in a thesaurus and find alternatives.

If you are using an online thesaurus, type your original word (or phrase) in the site’s search box. The results will include a list of alternative words with similar meanings. (You will also see the word’s part(s) of speech and, in some cases, its definition and pronunciation. If the word has more than one part of speech, synonyms will be given for each of its functions. These synonyms are the alternatives that can be substituted in place of your original word or phrase.

Be careful! Sometimes the synonyms do not contain the same feeling or nuance as the original word. In order to make sure you are not using a word with a different feeling, do a "cross check" of the new word by checking its own definition to make sure it matches the feeling you want.

Whether you keep a printed copy on your desk, bookmark a website, or download an app to your smartphone, your writing will improve with frequent use of a thesaurus. In addition, you will learn new vocabulary in the process of looking up synonyms!

why use a thesaurusPRACTICE

Use a thesaurus to find an alternative word to the one that is listed. If you click on the "reveal answers" you will find one example. (There are more possible answers.) Click on the link after each word to see more answers from

Find alternatives to the word "speak."
Find alternatives to the word "try."
Find alternatives to the word "give."
Find alternatives to the word "choose."
Find alternatives to the word "look."

If you are a MyOvient PLUS or PRO member, you can ask questions or leave comments about this page. Click here to learn more about MyOvient Membership.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Choose a Lesson

  • Member Login