Dictionary vs. Thesaurus

By Daniel Scocco

Afshan Khan asks, “What is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus?”

A dictionary is a book containing the individual words of a language (usually organized alphabetically). The purpose of the dictionary is to set forth the orthography, pronunciation and signification of those words.

The thesaurus, on the other hand, is a specific dictionary that presents synonyms (words that have similar meaning) for every word listed. This type of dictionary became famous after its integration with word processing software.

The purpose of the thesaurus is to help the writer to find more suitable words and avoid the repetition of terms.

5 Responses to “Dictionary vs. Thesaurus”

  • LH

    A thesaurus gives you more wordplay, while a dictionary gives articulation to your voice. I would use the former, then the latter to see if ithe chosen word is the best anunciation of your voice. They go hand-in-hand.

  • Craig

    While if I was required to pick one that humans could use for the rest of history and have the other one eaten up by aliens or something, I would grab a dictionary.

    But when it comes to what I use more often for myself–be it with work or for fun–I’d have to say thesaurus.

  • twilight

    I think thesauruses are better.

  • salih


  • DPeach

    When I was in school, my teacher called the Thesaurus, “the dinosaur book.” I guess because it has a dinosaur sounding name.

    I live and work in a country that does not speak my native language. A thesaurus has become one of my favorite reference books. It can really help expand your understanding of word subtleties.

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