We’re delighted you’re here! You’re just a few clicks away from joining the ‘net’s oldest community for writers… and certainly the friendliest. Click the “Register” button to create a free account. See you in the Colony!

  • Clichés & Tropes! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! Share your opinion in the latest Craft Chat, live now until Saturday

Which Dictionary & Thesaurus?

Greetings! Can we be friends?

Greetings! Hello there!

Not open for further replies.

Paul Whybrow

Full Member
I gained a love of words from reading voraciously at a young age. Back in the pre-internet age, in the 1960s, finding out definitions of words sometimes had to wait until I visited the public library.

I quickly realised that the dictionary my family owned was rather basic, for looking up the meaning of 'revolver' it said 'a kind of pistol' and the definition of 'pistol' was 'a kind of revolver.' This is unhelpful, and the second definition is also technically inaccurate. I tried compiling my own dictionary, at about the age of 8, scrawling out some 50 pages in pencil and only getting to the middle of 'B' before giving up!

In the recently televised documentary about Philip Pullman, he stated that he likes using Chambers Dictionary, for its quirky definitions of words. For instance, strictly speaking, 'feisty' means 'farty', which made me smile, for a lot of female lonely hearts on dating agencies describe themselves as feisty! :eek:

When in full flow while writing, I use the Artha online thesaurus app.

I also turn to hard copies of the Oxford Pocket School Dictionary, The Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors, the two volume Shorter Oxford Dictionary, Collins Gem Thesaurus (pocket-sized) and a 1982 edition of Roget's Thesaurus. I need to acquire a modern dictionary, as it's noticeable how many words are missing from my collection.

I'll buy a copy of Pullman's favourite dictionary, as I could do with a laugh. Being something of a cynic, I should also get Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, as it's still humorous 112 years after it was originally published.

The Devil's Dictionary - Wikipedia

Here's what I mean:

Egotist (n.) A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

Marriage (n.) A household consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

Positive (a.) Mistaken at the top of one's voice.

Which dictionaries and thesauri do you use?


Island Writer

The dictionaries I use most for writing and editing are:
Oxford English Dictionary online
Collins Dictionary online
New Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors
Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage
Merriam-Webster (US)
Not open for further replies.

Greetings! Can we be friends?

Greetings! Hello there!