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Usually I just use the synonym suggestions at dictionary.com (or its tie-in site thesaurus.com) but it's pretty lame. Most of the synonyms it suggests are basic and well-known words I already know. In the interest of writing novels, for instance, sometimes it's nice to be able to sprinkle in those more rarely used words to make the writing a little more artful, so to speak.

To that end, what's a good online thesaurus that might be able to help me expand my vocabulary or find words I might not normally think of?

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If you don't know quite the right word for something, I recommend the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange forum. There's nothing like SAT word lists for expanding your vocabulary. –  Qaz Aug 6 at 21:20

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

http://www.wordnik.com seems to be the best online thesaurus, though one is presented with such a hailstorm of synonyms and near-synonyms and synonyms from divergent disciplines it can be rather overwhelming.

I've used it for several years, but recently found a thesaurus called "Artha" that sits on the desktop and is spectacularly well-designed. It's easy to find (just google "Artha thesaurus") and there are many places to download it from. I use it on Linux; hopefully it's available for other OS's.

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wordnik looks pretty good, thanks –  user1985189 Aug 8 at 14:59

I personally prefer a physical thesaurus for research... there's just a feel to it when crawling through topical sections I have not found online -- searching for a word online is just not the same as trolling through the sections and getting led along.

The 1911 version of Roget's Thesaurus is online and searchable. Being 100+ years old now, it could serve to provide the words you don't already know. I'd, of course, be careful about using antiquated words more likely to cause confusion than provide clariy.

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I would add that the purpose of a thesaurus is not simply to suggest synonyms. It should suggest related words and ideas. It should take you sideways and slantways and off-track. Most modern "thesauruses" (thesauri?) are major fails in that regard. –  dmm Aug 4 at 23:38
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Also, ditto about antiquated words, and hoity-toity words. "Never use a five dollar word where a five cent word will do." That is, construct your narration from words in common use, unless a less-common word is so perfect that it would be awkward to write around it. (This rule doesn't apply to dialogue. The choice of words in dialogue is of course dictated by the character speaking.) –  dmm Aug 4 at 23:44
    
@dmm in general I agree with you. If you're doing technical/business writing or simply trying to communicate a point, then yes. When it comes to novels, poetry, and more artistic forms of writing, simpler != better. –  user1985189 Aug 5 at 12:56
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@user1985189: Yes, for poetry and arty novels the bar for "so perfect" is quite low. Besides, for those categories you can generally assume your readers have a good vocabulary. If you're aiming for a broad readership, though, don't keep writing over their heads. But even for mass-market novels, don't NOT use a (non-archaic) word if it really is the best word. Mass-market readers aren't stupid and don't mind an occasional challenging word. Nowadays, the stupid people have abandoned reading altogether. –  dmm Aug 5 at 17:01
    
thanks for the answer btw. I'll have to test it out before accepting of course :) –  user1985189 Aug 5 at 19:55

Have a look at Power Thesaurus - http://www.powerthesaurus.org

  • It's very extensive!
  • The site has simple, easy-to-use layout.
  • The synonyms are sorted by rating and you can vote as well (and add you own terms as well).
  • The lists can be filtered by topics (the filters are on the right).
  • And there are antonyms and other word relations.

Please note that it doesn't have definitions of the words, but rather focuses on related words.

The result - you become very efficient in your writing when you use it ;)

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Welcome to Writers. We prefer answers that are a little more comprehensive than just a link elsewhere. Can you tell us more about this? Why do you prefer it over other resources? –  Neil Fein Nov 3 at 19:48
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Hi Neil, I added more info about the site. –  Alex Nov 3 at 21:37
    
Thanks, that's very helpful. –  Neil Fein Nov 4 at 1:36

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