What is a Thesaurus?

A thesaurus is a tool that should be utilized by every writer. It is used to present synonyms and antonyms for all kinds of words. While it is very useful, it is important not to overuse it as the words may not always have the exact same meaning. So be sure to double-check that the synonym you use matches up with the message you are wanting to get across.


The thesaurus is a tool that has synonyms for words listed in it. Synonyms are words that mean the same thing. I like to remember this by thinking “synonym|same”. Those S’s help me remember that a synonym is going to be a word that means the same thing as the word I’m looking up. While a thesaurus may not give you a definition like a dictionary would, it is going to give you a list of words that mean the same as the word you’re looking up.

Perhaps you’re writing a paper and you want to use some more colorful adjectives and not repeat yourself over and over saying “happy” several times. Words you might put in are “content”, “pleased”, “glad”, and “delighted.” These are words that would be listed next to “happy” in a thesaurus. Happy is a word that has lots of synonyms, so you would probably get a whole paragraph of words and not just these few, which would help you come up with more words for your paper. Another word we might look up is “sad”, and you might see “sorrowful”, “doleful”, and “mournful”.

These are all words that may give you a stronger connotation than just “sad”, or it may hit on the special kind of sad you’re looking for and help you put a better word in your paper than you were hoping to put in to start with. Another way you can use a thesaurus is to look up a word you don’t know and see if you know some of the synonyms. While that thesaurus won’t give you a definition, it will give you words that mean the same thing. It’s likely that you’ll know at least one of those words. For “exultant”, you may see “thrilled” or “overjoyed”. Seeing those words, you would know that “exultant” simply meant “really happy” or “extremely happy”.

Again, you’ve got another synonym for “happy” now. So, you can see that a thesaurus could be very useful for looking up words you don’t know to help you figure them out if you don’t have a dictionary handy, or it can give you lots of synonyms for words that you want to find different words for whenever you’re writing a paper (whenever you’re trying not to repeat yourself). A thesaurus is always a good place to look for synonyms.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: August 14, 2019