Blue is never just blue – Blue can be azure, cerulean, cobalt, or sapphire.
Red is not simply red – Red is carmine, burgundy, garnet, rosy, scarlet, or roseate.
Green is not only green – Green should be beryl, chartreuse, forest, olive, or viridian.
I got to thinking, who the heck was Roget anyway?
Peter Mark Roget was born in London in 1779 and went on to become a physician, natural theologian, and lexicographer (author or editor of a dictionary). And of course, Roget is best known for publishing The Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, aka Roget’s Thesaurus, in 1852.
Obsessive list-making – Roget was the son of a Swiss clergyman. He was apparently obsessed with list-making (I developed the same obsession from my Welsh-Irish mother) and suffered with depression most of his life. Roget’s father died young, his wife died young, and his beloved Uncle Samuel committed suicide right in front of him. His obsessive list-making seemed to be a coping mechanism and took hold of him by the time he was just 8 years old. Roget studied medicine in Edinburgh.
From Wikipedia – “Roget retired from professional life in 1840 and about 1848 began preparing for publication the one work that was to perpetuate his memory. This was the catalogue of words organized by their meanings, the compilation of which had been an avocation since 1805. Its first printed edition, in 1852, was called Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition.”
Roget died in September of 1869.
The thesaurus is a wondrous thing. Whether you use the sideline thesaurus on Word, a printed tome, or an online connection, one simple word can lead you to intricate synonyms.
I know how I use a thesaurus – frequently. But I wondered, “How do others use one?” What if you can’t find just the right word as you are working on the novel or a letter to your congressman or a passage on your resume? Do you stop and think about the right word? Do you break out the thesaurus or do you just keep typing?
What a few friends and writers say about the thesaurus
Judy Ann Lashinski Davis, author of Red Fox Woman and blogger at A Writer’s Revelations, uses Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, and she’s got it “right at my elbow.”
Chris Eboch, of the Write Like a Pro! blog and action and adventure books for children like The Eyes of Pharaoh and The Well of Sacrifice, says she uses the thesaurus option at Dictionary.com so often she has it bookmarked.
Susannah Friis, writer and blogger at Personally Speaking and The Writerly Way – “I can’t move on until I find the right word.” Susannah uses the dictionary and thesaurus features on her Mac. She also uses Wiktionary (Wiki also has a neat rhymes feature).
Valerie P. Chandler blogs at V. P. Chandler – Author and she recommends the Visual Thesaurus. This site is great if you like to see a visual map of any word and related words. You are allowed a trial version but need to sign up and pay to use it long-term. (Caution – do not use this application if you take mind-altering drugs. It’s far-out, man.)
Some word-find sources
Sources used for this article
“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” –W. H. Auden