208 of 213 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2000
When I was a freshman in college, my creative writing instructor insisted that we buy this book. Really, it has been the most useful, most-used book in my entire library--even surpassing my OED. As a professional writer, it is invaluable--I CANNOT write without it. I have one for home and work, and wish they made a portable edition to keep in my car.
Don't waste your money and time buying a thesaurus in dictionary form. In this edition, the words are grouped categorically by meaning, so you can find all the subtle variations and neighbors of "happy."
Every poet and writer should have one of these.
This makes a great gift for college students.
153 of 160 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2001
Although one's search begins with an alphabetized listing, the main body of this thesaurus (its original concept) is organized by category. This means that to find a synonym for e.g., "trouble", you will not simply be presented a list all the possible meanings of the word but you can choose your search depending upon the sense you are looking for. If you mean "annoyance" you will be sent one place for synonyms (nouns, verbs, adj, adv); if your meaning is more "presume upon" you will be sent somewhere else. In the case of "trouble" there are about a dozen places to go in the thesaurus depending upon the subtlety of meaning you are looking for. If you are a writer, this reference work is a sine qua non. Look no further than here for the best thesaurus in the world.
134 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2005
An earlier reviewer, John L. Pope, is right on the money about this. The organizational arrangement used for the editions up to and including the 4th was a sublime and beautiful exploratory exposition of the English language. The new editions suffer from the idea that simplistic presentation, aimed at the "average" user, will be more "user-friendly". In fact, the opposite is true, as those who are most likely to use this work are precisely those most likely to be frustrated by this 'dumbing down' of what is an unparalleled and irreplaceable reference tool. I pray that Roget's recognize the folly of this course eventually, for I, too, have returned to the 4th edition, which means that I don't get the benefit of the new words & phrases that have been added in the two published since.
Those who claim that a thesaurus in dictionary form is better have no idea what they are talking about. If you don't realize that an indexed type is infinitely superior, it's because you don't know how to use it properly. A thesaurus is not meant as a dictionary replacement, but is meant to be used in concert with a dictionary. Each is arranged in the way most proper for its purpose.
The fact is, this thesaurus does have an alphabetical listing, and that is properly the place where one starts when using it -- it's called the index, and it takes up about 1/4 or more of the entire volume. When looking for a synonym or related word, one goes to the index and looks up the word one wants a synonym for in the alphabetical listing. Several senses of the word will be presented, with a different page listing for each.
Choosing a sense of the word, you now proceed to the page referenced in the index for that sense. There, the word you looked up will be found in a block of words with similar meaning.
But what makes this type so much better than those in "dictionary form" is that, if you don't find the word you're looking for right away, you can "spiral" outward from where you first looked -- because the words are arranged by concept, and so various shades of meaning of the word or idea you're looking for will be found grouped closely to one another. The word groups have a decimal arrangement, so that the group labelled 4.18.3 is a subset of 4.18; this arrangement allows one to skim through the groups in 4.18 to see whether there's a sense that is closer to what you're looking for than is the group that you originally were directed to by the index. This, in turn, might send you back to the index with a newer, closer word, which will direct you to a group with a different common component than was the one shared by those in the block you searched previously. As this process continues, you get closer and closer to finding the ideal word to convey your feeling or idea. Along the way, you gain insight into the conceptual and historical relationships between the words, and clarify for yourself precisely how this idea lies in relation to the similar ideas which surround it. The fine grain of its differentiation lends to increased appreciation of the unique character of individual words and phrases.
If you are considering buying a thesaurus, absolutely get one that is indexed. Before passing judgement on it, take 15 or 20 minutes to read the guide at the front on how to use it. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed. Anyone who has properly used an indexed thesaurus will know beyond doubt that other formats cannot possibly approach its power and utility.
74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 1998
This book will make you think about words in a way that you never have before. It is an absolute must for anyone who endeavors to communicate well in the English language.
If you can think of a word to start out with, but want to search for a better one, you can look the word up in the alphabetically arranged index. There, you will find listed several different faces of the word, some representing subtle variations in the word's meaning that you may have never considered before. Then, after thinking about what aspect of the word most closely resembles your intended meaning, you can look up the word's various implications in the main body of the book. There, you'll discover a plethora of other words of similar meaning.
You'll find the body of the book organizes all of human experience into categories..."the body and the senses", "feelings", "place", "measure and shape", etc.. If you want to describe something intangible, such as an emotion, and cannot even think of one word to begin with, you can wander through the categories of human emotion... pleasure, excitement, contentment... sadness, regret, lamentation...until you find what you are trying to describe. This process helps stimulate thought about exactly what you want to say. A merely alphabetical thesaurus could never offer anything like this.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
"Roget's International Thesaurus" is organized by subject as opposed to alphabetically, although all words are also indexed in the back. Which type of organization you prefer will depend upon your needs and tastes. If you are looking for a thesaurus that will simply give you the most and best alternative words, an alphabetical thesaurus such as Rodale Press' "Synonym Finder" is easier to use and more efficient to that purpose. On the other hand, "Roget's International Thesaurus" has traded ease of use for versatility. If it's a synonym you seek, look it up in the index, which will direct you to the appropriate section and subsection. There, you will find synonyms for your word, and if you let your eyes wander up and down the page perusing the contents of that section, you will also find words related to your subject, including antonyms. The part of speech for each word is always given, and abbreviations for "nonformal" and the origins of foreign words are provided for clarity. There are no word definitions. Section/subsection numbers are conveniently found at the top of each page to aid in locating words. If you have no idea what word you need, you can consult the list of 1,075 categories in the front of the book, which will direct you to words related to that subject. Word lists are another of the book's useful features. If you are looking at the subject of lakes, for example, you are provided with a list of the world's major lakes. Other examples include a list of words describing different types of engraving found in the graphic arts section, and over 100 types of ceramic are listed in the ceramics section. A short biography of Peter Mark Roget, the 19th century physician whose work was the basis for all subsequent thesauruses organized by subject, introduces you to the book, followed by a short explanation of how to best make use of this thesaurus. I think that most students will prefer an alphabetical thesaurus to this one. But if you do a lot of expository writing, Roget's organization by subject could prove invaluable. Since I do a lot of writing and have somehow deluded myself into viewing shelf space as endlessly expandable, I have found that having both "Roget's International Thesaurus" and "The Synonym Finder" is the best way to go.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 1999
This is it! The thesaurus with an index that's almost half the book -- usually the word you need is right there in the index, without having to plod through several paragraphs or even pages. This thesaurus has the whole spectrum of language, from current slang to quaint old-fashioned expressions. Those who have been frustrated by a thesaurus "in dictionary form" will find this much more complete and easier to use.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2003
If you just need a different word that is easier to spell or say, a dictionary of synonyms will usually suffice. And that is all that an alphabetically organized thesaurus is. Their advantage is that you only have to do one lookup in the book instead of two, making them quicker and easier. A true thesaurus requires that you look the word up in an index to find a numeric index, then look up that numeric index in the body of the book to get a choice of synonyms.
But the true thesaurus will give you a better supply of answers. First, the numeric entries either preceding or following frequently are opposing concepts. That means that if you go forward or backward two entries, you may strike on a subtle change in meanings that fits your intent much better. This had happened to me several times when I couldn't quite get the right word. It was because I didn't quite have the right meaning. Second, because all of the 'answers' are printed once, there is room for more of them. In a simple example, assume 5 words are considered synonyms. For a dictionary of synonyms, that means 5 entries listing 5 words each (the entry and its four synonyms), for 25 words. A true thesaurus lists an entry number in the main body with 5 words, and 5 entries of one-word-one-number in the index. Counting each number as a word, that is 16 words. That I can add 3 more synonyms (3 words in the entry in the body, 3 word-number pairs in the index) in the same amount of space. For larger groupings of words, the difference is much more significant. So now I get 7 choices (8 less the original word) instead of 4 (5 less the original word).
Mark Twain claimed that the difference between a good word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. Lightning strikes more often with a true thesaurus than a dictionary of synonyms.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2006
Most people use a thesaurus to jazz up reports for school or work. There's nothing wrong with that; it helps prevent overuse of common words. If you are one of those types of writers, then just about any thesaurus will do.
But if you are a writer who is sensitive to the subtleties of nuance and shades of meaning, then this book is the one you want to have on your desk. Not only will it help you consider words that you may not have thought about, but its organization lets you browse ideas and concepts. This is invaluable if you write for a living.
What keeps this edition from getting five stars is that the best version is the now out-of-print Roget's International Thesaurus, 4th Edition. The 4th is more complete in its definitions and examples, has better "feel" to its organization, and is printed on robust paper instead of cheaper stock.
As with any thesaurus, you should try before you buy. If you get the opportunity, choose a word (I chose "writing" as in authorship) and browse the versions you are considering. Whichever one calls to you, buy it. For me the 4th was the best. If the 4th isn't available, get the 6th.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2005
This is it... the one you want. I mean, if you use a thesaurus and really want to find the "right" word, this is probably the best. I found out the hard way: I read numerous reviews before making a decision, and narrowed it down to the Merriam-Webster thesaurus or the Roget International thesaurus-- both had high ratings. By mistake I chose the Merriam-Webster. What I found was, like some reviewers said, it was "bare bones". There weren't even entries for common words despite its advertised "340,000 synonyms" (more than Roget's!). After trying to use the Merriam-Webster a few times I realized I'd made a mistake, so I ordered the Roget's. Sure, it takes a few seconds longer to look up a word, but you get 10 times more choices. It is definitely a writer's thesaurus, as well as being great for ordinary folks, like me, who like to express things "just so".
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 1998
A dictionary of synonyms or a "thesaurus in dictionary form" (now that's phony titling) requires that you think of one of the words by which they sorted the language. A true thesaurus, though, while unfamiliar at first like any new and powerful tool, will let you find the word you are looking for when you can't think of ANY word to start. All you have to do is go to the area with the right sort of ideas and browse a bit. This book only gets better with time. Every writer of every sort needs a copy of this. (Oh, and the index makes a great spelling list for all the words science- and law-obsessed spellcheckers leave out.)