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The American Century Thesaurus

1 rating: 5.0
A book

Created by the Oxford University Press, this thesaurus contains over 250,000 synonyms and a guide to precise synonym choice.

Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines, Reference
Publisher: Grand Central Pub
Date Published: August 01, 1996
1 review about The American Century Thesaurus

Happy Birthday! Oh, why thank you…

  • Feb 2, 2006
Pros: Awww, it’s all doggy-eared with use!

Cons: Only when you can’t find the right word right away

The Bottom Line: Can't find the right wording? Phraseology? Language? Phrasing? Word choice? Choice of words? Then let's confabulate.

What’s up with the title you ask? You see, back when I was still in high school, all my friends knew I was a writer. One of my closest friends, Katie, knew my birthday was coming up and I happened to mention, “I need a good thesaurus…” So when my birthday rolled around I got a thesaurus and huge pencil from her. I was excited. Ironically, it isn’t until just now that I realize this book was “prepared under the auspices of the Oxford University Press […] Publisher of the renowned twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary […]” Sha-zam! Katie did a good job because the OED is indeed renowned. I know I use the online version all the time and my professors are always harping about it.

My little paperback looks exactly like the picture above, 6.75” in length, 4” in width, and about an inch thick. It’s really handy being this size because it fits nicely into my hands and I can stash it in all sorts of spots to keep it handy. What do the goodies on the back say?

•Synonyms are grouped according to shade of meaning—making it easy to quickly locate the terms you want.
•“Bubbles” (degree marks) indicate other words that have their own listings—making it easy to find related terms quickly.
•Italic labels indicate whether a word is colloquial, slang, taboo, archaic, old-fashioned, technical, or literary—making it easy to choose synonyms accurately and precisely.

Obviously they want to make things easy for you. Haha. But honestly, all these features do indeed come in handy.

In the front of the book you get a little Introduction and then separate sections that explain the choosing of headwords, synonym lists and how they were formed, cross-reference explanations, the list of labels involved, and spelling and other variants. All of these are explained and include different examples for further clarification. After that, it’s on from A to Z! The book claims to have almost 250,000 synonyms and seeing as I’ve had this book for so long, obviously that’s good enough for me.

As I’ve said, the features they’ve put into the book do come in handy, especially the degree marks set next to words. That way if I see certain words I might have considered looking up further, I know whether or not they will even have a listing of their own. It’s a really simple system; everything is all ordered and labeled and ready for flipping back and forth.

I find that this comes in handy well, at any time I need it really. I’d also like to point out that when I’m at the computer and I want a different word, sometimes my quick shift+F7 shortcut to the thesaurus doesn’t always give me what I’m looking for, or as many options. A quick comparison?

“zany” in Word: 5 options
“zany” in ACT: 27 options

Not that Word’s thesaurus is supposed to be super-comprehensive or anything. But it does show that going oldschool with an actual book gives you a lot more leeway. I know I’ve had this book for over at least 5 years, and though it’s true that words are changed and added to our vocabulary often, most of these are pretty static so I don’t consider this out of date or anything. I know I’m not pitching it any time soon! Viva la Thesaurus!



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