When I’m looking for a word to substitute for another, I turn to a thesaurus. There are many kinds out there and my recent trip to the bookstore left me perplexed. The sales guy gave me the world’s longest elitist spiel about which is the “only” Thesaurus to use if you are a writer. (And shame on you for thinking of any other). The Roget’s thesaurus. I get that it’s super and laid out in the best way, and I adore Roget. However I was just looking to see if they had something smaller and themed similar to the Emotional Thesaurus. (apparently that offended him given the utter look of disgust on his face.) I looked at the shelf when he walked away (Actually we were interrupted by another customer and he just bailed) *eye roll.
That shelf had hundreds of dictionaries and Thesaurus’s sort of organized. I looked at a handful including a few Roget’s but in the end I walked away. Not because I didn’t need or want to buy one, but because I couldn’t decide which worked best for me and I didn’t want to carry a massive brick of a book all day. (The bookstore was my first stop.)
The internet has a handy-dandy one or two that I tend to use when I’m feeling too lazy to flip actual pages.
Substituting a word with a thesaurus is a great way to stop repetitive words. However not all words are created equal or actually mean what you think. I always check the meaning of a word before using it when I substitute.
Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to accommodate them.
The thesaurus first choice under the meaning “To make room or lodging”.
Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to contain them.
Sure the thesaurus’s first choice said it means the same thing but that clearly didn’t work, so what about the first choice for “make, become suitable for something”
Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to adapt them.
Obviously, I can’t just plunk in whatever word is listed, I need to think about it. Read the list and find a good substitute.
Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to welcome them.
There that worked. I often find myself repeating a word when I write, it’s okay it’s just the rough draft. When I go over it, I don’t like reading repetitive words, they need to go.
I thought I would try a little experiment. If I looked up a word like say, Perplexed, what would its substitute be? Then what would that words substitute be and would they be even close in meaning? I selected the first word on the list and then the first word for that word. Here is what it looked like.
Eventually it started cycling between contain and accommodate. I thought that was interesting. And contain has noting to do with the word perplexed whatsoever. Nerdy I know.
My advice about using a thesaurus.
Check the words meaning so the sentence still makes sense. You don’t want to leave the reader perplexed. It’s time to go toast marshmallows over the combustion abyss.
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