Dictionary or Thesaurus?
Dictionaries and thesauruses are reference books for words. But what's the difference between them? When do we use a dictionary and when do we use a thesaurus?
A dictionary is a list of words arranged alphabetically, and for each word you can see:
- definition: the meaning or meanings of the word, often with example sentences
- part of speech: whether the word is a noun, verb, adjective etc
- correct spelling: the exact spelling and any possible alternatives
- pronunciation: how to say the word
- etymology: the origin of the word (did it come from Latin, for example?)
Here is a simple example of a dictionary entry for the noun "dog":
dog (noun): a domesticated, meat-eating animal that usually has a long snout, excellent sense of smell, and a barking or howling voice
When you want to know what a word means, you look in a dictionary.
A thesaurus is a list of words arranged in conceptual groups or alphabetically, and for each word you can see:
- similar words: a number of words that have nearly the same meaning or the same meaning (synonym)
- opposite words: one or two words that have the opposite meaning (antonym) or nearly opposite meaning
Here is a simple example of a thesaurus entry for the noun "dog":
dog (noun): hound, canine, mongrel, tyke; bitch, pup, puppy, whelp; doggy, mutt
When you don't know the exact word you that want, you look in a thesaurus.
- A thesaurus does not give the meaning of words.
- A thesaurus does not always include antonyms.
- The plural of thesaurus is "thesauri" or "thesauruses".