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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (January 29, 2007)

Some Cautions on the Thesaurus

A thesaurus is a wonderful tool for writers, but it holds some potent dangers as well. With it, you can just as easily choose the wrong word as the right one!

William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction,  argues that a "thesaurus is to the writer what a rhyming dictionary is to the songwriter—a reminder of all the choices."

One example is the synonyms for the word "writer" in a thesaurus. These include words like "hack," "publicist," "scribe," and "editor." Each of these has a use, but are they truly interchangeable? Check the meanings of some of them and you will surely find that they are not!

In the end, choosing just the right word may be substantially aided by a good thesaurus. If the thesaurus is used to jog your memory of a word you know, but have forgotten for the moment, then it can be indispensable.

Remember, be careful, and the thesaurus may become your most valued writing tool.



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