From Ho Hum to Spectacular — Cool Tools to Rev Up Your Language

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For a long time, my trusty, old Roget’s Thesaurus was my favorite writer’s reference. Now, with the resources available online and on our smartphones, a synonym for thesaurus might be dinosaurus. As writers, we have no excuse for dull, drab, colorless language!

Allow me to introduce three very cool tools… alt.thesaurus!

Synonym Finder

Synonym Finder is a bare-bones search-and-results engine. In a word: utilitarian. Your menu choices: Synonyms, Antonyms, or Definitions will return the basic information you seek.

Search BORING, for example, and Synonym Finder offers nine synonyms (for the meaning we are interested in), and offers the definition and usage examples: 

Ho hum — a ho-hum speaker who couldn’t capture their attention

Synonym Finder offers one unique tidbit I didn’t find with the other tools: Hypernyms (which I had to look up).

A hypernym is a word that is more generic than a given word. and while hypernyms might be interesting to us word geeks, I’m not sure, as a writer, you want to go with a word that is more generic/ordinary/boring than the word you started with.)

Back to our Synonym Finder example:

Hypernym (for BORING) — uninteresting.

But wait! There’s another intriguing surprise from Synonym Finder.

If you are a visual learning type, click on the bright blue button in the header — Graph Words. Like magic, your synonym search results morph into a graphic thesaurus. Which is kind of cool…

Synonym Finder is a good tool, with a couple of nifty features. For a little more oomph with a different twist, consider…

Power Thesaurus

Power Thesaurus, self-describes as “a fast, convenient and comprehensive online thesaurus.” It is unique in offering “crowdsourced” word solutions “by writers for writers,” with editorial input and a user-rating system.

Power Thesaurus offers a more in-depth presentation of information — including synonyms and antonyms and various ways to analyze results. You can easily vote for your favorite word choices with a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down.

Search: BORING = 619 Synonyms and 374 Antonyms

Dull is the number 1 synonym with 60 votes.

Awesome is the number 1 Antonym! (16 votes)

Power Thesaurus is, in my opinion, a better tool than Synonym Finder. The concept of crowdsourcing — an interactive thesaurus! — makes it fun to use.

Dictionary.com/Thesaurus.com

I must confess — Dictionary.com has been my most favorite, go-to solution (the best tool), since I retired my much-loved, tattered paperback copy of Roget’s II The New Thesaurus (1996).

There’s even an app for that! — In addition to the website.

Dictionary.com/Thesaurus.com offers an easy-to-use interface, with plenty of trivia, word-geek information, and an engaging presentation. One of my favorite features is the audio button — click to hear the word in that oh-so-sexy computer voice, which can be incredibly helpful. (To be fair, I noticed Power Thesaurus also offers the audio button.)

Search BORING = 49 Synonyms

Dull is at the top of the list (but no ratings).

Bright is the top Antonym.

Dictionary.com/Thesaurus.com includes comprehensive info, with related word lists. The source listed is Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition (2013), which is probably why I find the format so familiar and comforting.

(Did I mention I LOVE my trusty, old thesaurus?)

For the record, and to counterbalance the number of times I used BORING in this article, I will close with the antonyms you need for your writing:

Astonishing!

Fascinating!

Breathtaking!

Captivating!

Electrifying!

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1 Comment

  1. I regularly use one of several online dictionaries. I also have a number of hardcopies dating from the late 1800’s to 2000. I would love to find some even older. I watch the etymology of the words I use. Knowing the history of some words has prompted me to choose another to express myself. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Nice guys/girls finish last’. Take a look at the changing meanings ‘nice’ has gone through and the phrase will take on new meaning. With the rapid changes, the electronic age allows, we must check the date of a publication and correlate the definitions with the message. Maybe, ‘The Next Big Thing’, we need is a translator that converts English from the date of the publication to the current date. Maybe then I could understand what these teens are actually saying! Synonym Finder and Power Thesaurus are indispensable!

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