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.
See our most
Tips from November 2001 to April 2002
September 2000 to October 2001.
January to August 2000
Tips from January to December 1999