Category: How to Use the Dictionary-Thesaurus

Mar
29
2013

Wordsmyth’s Integrated Dictionary-Thesaurus (or Where’s the Thesaurus?)

“Where’s the thesaurus?” is one of the most frequently asked questions by users of our dictionary.  Developed in the 1980s, the Wordsmyth Educational Dictionary-Thesaurus (WEDT) was the first online dictionary to have thesaurus information paired with individual definitions in a headword entry.  What some users don’t seem to recognize right away is that synonyms, similar words, and antonyms are matched with each sense of a word and appear directly under each definition for a particular headword.  A user doesn’t need to click anywhere to get the information and doesn’t need to leave the page  in order to see it.  In other words, the thesaurus is not a separate entity, but something built into the dictionary itself.

Occasionally when a user asks about the thesaurus, that person is looking at an entry that simply contains no synonyms, similar words, or antonyms.  This can happen because the meaning of the particular word simply does not invite these concepts, or because related words do not meet our criteria to be included in the thesaurus.  What would share the same meaning or be the opposite of a “pencil,” for example?  Is “pen” an antonym for “pencil”?  We don’t think so.  (To find words like “pen” that relate to the concept of a pencil, however, one can use our Word Explorer.  By clicking on the word “art” under Word Explorer toward the bottom of the page, one can find words such as “brush,” “crayon,” “charcoal,” “enamel,” “pen,” “ink,” and “paint.”  Clicking on “tool” will also bring up words like “pen” and many other words denoting implements.)

Not finding thesaurus information for a particular word can also occur because our projects for adding synonyms, similars, and antonyms are still ongoing, and not every word that deserves this information has it yet.  In particular, words that are derived from other words, such as “paradoxical” from “paradox,” may be empty of thesaurus information because past projects focused on root forms only.  Despite our limitations, our built-in thesaurus has synonym coverage for 16,000 academic and high-frequency words, and the fact that thesaurus information is matched with individual senses of each of these words rather than just headwords, makes the Wordsmyth thesaurus a particularly useful resource for writers and anyone looking for a better word or a better understanding of a word’s meaning.

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