What Is a Thesaurus?


Quick Answer

A thesaurus is a reference book that groups words that have similar meanings. A thesaurus may also include a section that groups words with nearly opposite meanings as well. The first group of words are called synonyms, and the latter are called antonyms.

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What Is a Thesaurus?
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Full Answer

In the original Greek, thesaurus meant "treasury" or "repository." Writers use a thesaurus to find words that are more unusual or more precise than other, more common words they might use. A thesaurus differs from a dictionary, which provides definitions and guidance on pronunciation. Roget's Thesaurus, published in 1852, is the earliest known thesaurus in English.

In the computer industry, the term thesaurus also refers to a searchable subject matter index of a particular field.

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