The Penultimate Word

5 Reference Books You Should Have If You Write ANYTHING

#2 – Thesaurus

I love, love, love, love, love my thesaurus. OK, “love” may be too strong. Hm, let’s see. I adore (no) … cherish (no) … enjoy (huh-uh) … like (boring) … appreciate (maybe) … value (that works). I LOVE to value my thesaurus. Just kidding.

A thesaurus is a great resource for people prone to lethologica.I do, in all seriousness, value my thesaurus. In fact, I couldn’t do my job without it. You see, like many people, I’m prone to lethologica (pronounced leh-thuh-LOJ-i-ka): the temporary inability to remember the proper word. (I should write that down so I don’t forget it.) My thesaurus serves as a memory refresher.

A thesaurus is a wonderful resource for those tip-of-the-tongue moments when the word you want to use simply eludes you.

It’s kind of like “take,” but a little more forceful. Starts with an “s” … I think. Sssss______. Dang! What is it?!

Flip a few pages and voilà, it’s “seize.”

Be careful to use the thesaurus wisely, though. Just because it suggests multiple synonyms doesn’t mean that all of the words are appropriate for your particular sentence. For example, a synonym for “jail” is “prison,” however, the words are not interchangeable. A jail is typically run by a local law enforcement agency and is designed for short-term confinement; a prison is run by a state or federal agency and is designed for long-term confinement. So, give each suggested synonym careful consideration before making your selection.

Also, beware of using the thesaurus simply as a tool for avoiding repetition. It can make you look silly. You know what I’m talking about. Those instances when you’ve used “book” forty-two times in a sentence, and you’re wondering if there’s an alternative. So you turn to the thesaurus and find “volume,” “written work,” “publication,” and “tome.” Now, I ask you, who says “tome” (besides those “Emily Dickinson” types who need a word to rhyme with “home”)? It’s a book, for heaven’s sake, call it a book.

So, if you, too, suffer from bouts of … uh … of … wait … starts with an “L.” Dang! Where’s my thesaurus?


5 Reference Books You Should Have If You Write ANYTHING

#1 Dictionary
#3 Style Guide
#4 Dictionary of Synonyms
#5 Grammar Book


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