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A thesaurus (plural ''thesauri'' or ''thesauruses'') or synonym dictionary is a
reference work A reference work is a work, such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeri ...
for finding
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone ...
s and sometimes
antonym In lexical semantics Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), as a subfield of linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...
s of words. They are often used by writers to help find the best word to express an idea: Synonym dictionaries have a long history. The word 'thesaurus' was used in 1852 by
Peter Mark Roget Peter Mark Roget ( ; 18 January 1779 – 12 September 1869) was a British physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is ...

Peter Mark Roget
for his ''
Roget's Thesaurus ''Roget's Thesaurus'' is a widely used English-language thesaurus A thesaurus (plural ''thesauri'' or ''thesauruses'') or synonym dictionary is a reference work for finding synonyms and sometimes antonyms of words. They are often used by wri ...
''. While some thesauri, such as ''Roget's Thesaurus'', group words in a
hierarchical A hierarchy (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) that are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy i ...

hierarchical
hypernymic
taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
of concepts, others are organized alphabetically or in some other way. Most thesauri do not include definitions, but many dictionaries include listings of synonyms. Some thesauri and dictionary synonym notes characterize the distinctions between similar words, with notes on their "connotations and varying shades of meaning".''American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language'', 5th edition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011, , p. xxvii Some synonym dictionaries are primarily concerned with differentiating synonyms by meaning and usage. Usage manuals such as Fowler's '' Dictionary of Modern English Usage'' often prescribe appropriate usage of synonyms. Writers sometimes use thesauri to avoid repetition of words —
elegant variation Elegant variation is a writer's substitution of "one word for another for the sake of variety". The term was introduced in 1906 by H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler in ''The King's English ''The King's English'' is a book on English usage and gram ...
— which is often criticized by usage manuals: "writers sometimes use them not just to vary their vocabularies but to dress them up too much".


Etymology

The word "thesaurus" comes from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''
thēsaurus
thēsaurus
'', which in turn comes from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
(''thēsauros'') 'treasure, treasury, storehouse'."thesaurus"
''
Online Etymology Dictionary The ''Online Etymology Dictionary'' is a free online dictionary In computer technology and , online indicates a state of connectivity and offline indicates a disconnected state. In modern terminology, this usually refers to an , but (especia ...
''.
The word ''thēsauros'' is of uncertain etymology.''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
'
''s.v.''
/ref> Until the 19th century, a thesaurus was any
dictionary A dictionary is a listing of lexemes from the lexicon of one or more specific languages, often arranged Alphabetical order, alphabetically (or by radical-and-stroke sorting, radical and stroke for ideographic languages), which may include in ...

dictionary
or
encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English), encyclopædia (archaic spelling), or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. ...
, as in the ''
Thesaurus Linguae Latinae The ''Thesaurus Linguae Latinae'' (abbreviated as ''ThLL'' or ''TLL'') is a monumental dictionary of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
'' (''Dictionary of the Latin Language'', 1532), and the ''
Thesaurus Linguae GraecaeThe Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) is a research center at the University of California, Irvine. The TLG was founded in 1972 by Marianne McDonald (a graduate student at the time and now a professor of theater and classics at the University of Cali ...
'' (''Dictionary of the Greek Language'', 1572). It was Roget who introduced the meaning "collection of words arranged according to sense", in 1852.


History

In antiquity,
Philo of Byblos Philo of Byblos ( grc, Φίλων Βύβλιος, ''Phílōn Býblios''; la, Philo Byblius;  – 141), also known as Herennius Philon, was an antiquarian writer of grammatical, lexical and historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ...
authored the first text that could now be called a thesaurus. In
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
, the
Amarakosha The Amarakosha (Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''May ...

Amarakosha
is a thesaurus in verse form, written in the 4th century. The study of synonyms became an important theme in 18th-century philosophy, and wrote, but never published, a dictionary of synonyms. Some early synonym dictionaries include: *
John Wilkins John Wilkins, (14 February 161419 November 1672) was an Anglican ministry, Anglican clergyman, natural philosophy, natural philosopher and author, and was one of the founders of the Royal Society. He was Bishop of Chester from 1668 until his d ...

John Wilkins
, ''
An Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language ''An Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language'' (London, 1668) is the best-remembered of the numerous works of John Wilkins, in which he expounds a new universal language, meant primarily to facilitate international communic ...
'' and ''Alphabetical Dictionary'' (1668) are a "regular enumeration and description of all those things and notions to which names are to be assigned". They are not explicitly synonym dictionaries — in fact, they do not even use the word "synonym" — but they do group synonyms together. * Gabriel Girard, ''La Justesse de la langue françoise, ou les différentes significations des mots qui passent pour synonymes'' (1718)Gabriel Girard, ''La Justesse de la langue françoise, ou les différentes significations des mots qui passent pour synonymes'', Paris 1718
full text
/ref> * John Trusler, ''The Difference between Words esteemed Synonyms, in the English Language; and the proper choice of them determined'' (1766)John Trusler (anonymously), ''The Difference between Words esteemed Synonyms, in the English Language; and the proper choice of them determined'', London, 176
full text
/ref> * Hester Lynch Piozzi, ''British Synonymy'' (1794)Hester Lynch Piozzi, ''British Synonymy; or, an Attempt Regulating the Choice of Words in Familiar Conversation'', Dublin 179
full text
/ref> * James Leslie, ''Dictionary of the Synonymous Words and Technical Terms in the English Language'' (1806)James Leslie, ''Dictionary of the Synonymous Words and Technical Terms in the English Language'', Edinburgh, 180
full text
/ref> * George Crabb, ''English Synonyms Explained'' (1818)George Crabb, ''English Synonyms Explained, in Alphabetical Order with Copious Illustrations and Examples Drawn from the Best Writers'', 2nd edition, London 181
full text
/ref> ''
Roget's Thesaurus ''Roget's Thesaurus'' is a widely used English-language thesaurus A thesaurus (plural ''thesauri'' or ''thesauruses'') or synonym dictionary is a reference work for finding synonyms and sometimes antonyms of words. They are often used by wri ...
'', first compiled in 1805 by Peter Mark Roget, and published in 1852, follows
John Wilkins John Wilkins, (14 February 161419 November 1672) was an Anglican ministry, Anglican clergyman, natural philosophy, natural philosopher and author, and was one of the founders of the Royal Society. He was Bishop of Chester from 1668 until his d ...

John Wilkins
' semantic arrangement of 1668. Unlike earlier synonym dictionaries, it does not include definitions or aim to help the user to choose among synonyms. It has been continuously in print since 1852, and remains widely used across the English-speaking world. Roget described his thesaurus in the foreword to the first edition:
It is now nearly fifty years since I first projected a system of verbal classification similar to that on which the present work is founded. Conceiving that such a compilation might help to supply my own deficiencies, I had, in the year 1805, completed a classed catalogue of words on a small scale, but on the same principle, and nearly in the same form, as the Thesaurus now published.


Organization


Conceptual

Roget's original thesaurus was organized into 1000 conceptual Heads (e.g., 806 Debt) organized into a four-level
taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
. For example, debt is classed under V..iv: :Class five, ''Volition: the exercise of the will'' ::Division Two: ''Social volition'' :::Section 4: ''Possessive Relations'' ::::Subsection 4: ''Monetary relations''. Each head includes direct synonyms: Debt, obligation, liability, ...; related concepts: interest, usance, usury; related persons: debtor, debitor, ... defaulter (808); verbs: to be in debt, to owe, ... ''see'' Borrow (788); phrases: to run up a bill or score, ...; and adjectives: in debt, indebted, owing, .... Numbers in parentheses are
cross-referenceThe abbrevation Xref can refer also to External Reference The term cross-reference (abbreviation: xref) can refer to either: * An instance within a document which refers to related information elsewhere in the same document. In both printed and on ...
s to other Heads. The book starts with a Tabular Synopsis of Categories laying out the hierarchy, then the main body of the thesaurus listed by Head, and then an alphabetical index listing the different Heads under which a word may be found: Liable, ''subject to'', 177; ''debt'', 806; ''duty'', 926. Some recent versions have kept the same organization, though often with more detail under each Head. Others have made modest changes such as eliminating the four-level taxonomy and adding new heads: one has 1075 Heads in fifteen Classes. Some non-English thesauri have also adopted this model. In addition to its taxonomic organization, the '' Historical Thesaurus of English'' (2009) includes the date when each word came to have a given meaning. It has the novel and unique goal of "charting the semantic development of the huge and varied vocabulary of English". Different senses of a word are listed separately. For example, three difference senses of "debt" are listed in three different places in the taxonomy:
A sum of money that is owed or due; a liability or obligation to pay
:Society ::Trade and Finance :::Management of Money ::::Insolvency :::::Indebtedness
ounOun or OUN may refer to People *Ahmed Oun Ahmed Oun ( ar, احمد عون ; born c. 1946) was a Major General in the Libyan_Army_(1951%E2%80%932011), Libyan Armed Forces. He was the head of Technical Affairs and Heavy weapons in the Ministry of Def ...

An immaterial debt; an obligation to do something
:Society ::Morality :::Duty or obligation ::::
ounOun or OUN may refer to People *Ahmed Oun Ahmed Oun ( ar, احمد عون ; born c. 1946) was a Major General in the Libyan_Army_(1951%E2%80%932011), Libyan Armed Forces. He was the head of Technical Affairs and Heavy weapons in the Ministry of Def ...

An offence requiring expiation (figurative, Biblical)
:Society ::Faith :::Aspects of faith ::::Spirituality :::::Sin ::::::
ounOun or OUN may refer to People *Ahmed Oun Ahmed Oun ( ar, احمد عون ; born c. 1946) was a Major General in the Libyan_Army_(1951%E2%80%932011), Libyan Armed Forces. He was the head of Technical Affairs and Heavy weapons in the Ministry of Def ...
:::::::instance of


Alphabetical

Other thesauri and synonym dictionaries are organized alphabetically. Most repeat the list of synonyms under each word.''Longman Synonym Dictionary'', Rodale Press and Longman Group, 1986, Charlton Laird, Michael Agnes, eds., ''Webster's New World Roget's A-Z Thesaurus'', Macmillan USA, 3rd edition, 1971, Christine A. Lindberg, ''The Oxford American Thesaurus of Current English'', Oxford University Press, 1999, ''Oxford Thesaurus of English'', 3rd edition, 2009, Some designate a principal entry for each concept and cross-reference it.''Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms : Choose Words with Precision'', 1994, uses an asterisk A third system interfiles words and conceptual headings. 's ''Thesaurus Dictionary'' gives for ''liability'': , each of which is a conceptual heading. Francis Andrew March, Francis A. March, Jr., ''March's Thesaurus and Dictionary of the English Language'' (issued under the editorial supervision of
Norman Cousins Norman Cousins (June 24, 1912 – November 30, 1990) was an American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace World peace, or peace on Earth, is the concept of an ideal state of happiness, freedom Freedom, generally, is h ...

Norman Cousins
), Doubleday, 1968, p. 59
full text, 1906 edition
/ref> The article has multiple subheadings, including Nouns of Agent, Verbs, Verbal Expressions, ''etc.'' Under each are listed synonyms with brief definitions, ''e.g.'' "Credit. Transference of property on promise of future payment." The conceptual headings are not organized into a taxonomy. Benjamin Lafaye's ''Synonymes français'' (1841) is organized around morphologically related families of synonyms (''e.g.'' ''logis, logement''), and his ''Dictionnaire des synonymes de la langue française'' (1858) is mostly alphabetical, but also includes a section on morphologically related synonyms, which is organized by prefix, suffix, or construction.


Contrasting senses

Before Roget, most thesauri and dictionary synonym notes included discussions of the differences among near-synonyms, as do some modern ones. ''Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms'' is a stand-alone modern English synonym dictionary that does discuss differences. In addition, many general English dictionaries include synonym notes. Several modern synonym dictionaries in French are ''primarily'' devoted to discussing the precise demarcations among synonyms.B. Lafaye, ''Dictionnaire des synonymes de la langue française'', Hachette 1869, 3rd edition


Additional elements

Some include short definitions. Some give illustrative phrases. Some include lists of objects within the category (
hyponym In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langua ...
s), ''e.g.'' breeds of dogs.


Bilingual

Bilingual synonym dictionaries are designed for language learners. One such dictionary gives various French words listed alphabetically, with an English translation and an example of use. Another one is organized taxonomically with examples, translations, and some usage notes.


Information science and natural language processing

In
library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order to meet the user's needs on a daily basis. A library provi ...
and
information science Information science (also known as information studies) is an academic field which is primarily concerned with analysis, collection, classification Classification is a process related to categorization Categorization is the human ability a ...
, a thesaurus is a kind of
controlled vocabulary Controlled vocabularies provide a way to organize knowledge for subsequent retrieval. They are used in subject indexing schemes, subject headings, thesaurus (information retrieval), thesauri, Taxonomy (general), taxonomies and other knowledge orga ...
. A thesaurus can form part of an
ontology Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies concepts such as existence, being, Becoming (philosophy), becoming, and reality. It includes the questions of how entities are grouped into Category of being, basic categories and which of these ...
and be represented in the
Simple Knowledge Organization System Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) is a W3C recommendation The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization A standards organization, standards body, standards developing organization (SDO), or s ...
(SKOS). Thesauri are used in
natural language processing Natural language processing (NLP) is a subfield of , , and concerned with the interactions between computers and human language, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of data. The goal is a computer capab ...
for
word-sense disambiguation Word-sense disambiguation (WSD) is an open problemIn science and mathematics, an open problem or an open question is a known problem which can be accurately stated, and which is assumed to have an objective and verifiable solution, but which has n ...
and
text simplification Text simplification is an operation used in natural language processing Natural language processing (NLP) is a subfield of linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human lan ...
for
machine translation Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT (not to be confused with computer-aided translation Computer-aided translation (CAT), also referred to as machine-assisted translation (MAT) or machine-aided human translation (M ...
systems.Siddharthan, Advaith. "An architecture for a text simplification system." Language Engineering Conference, 2002. Proceedings. IEEE, 2002.


See also

* Conceptual dictionary


Bibliography

* W.E. Collinson, "Comparative Synonymics: Some Principles and Illustrations", ''Transactions of the Philological Society'' 38:1:54-77, November 1939, * Gerda Hassler, "Lafaye's ''Dictionnaire des synonymes'' in the History of Semantics" in Sheli Embleton, John E. Joseph, Hans-Josef Hiederehe, ''The Emergence of the Modern Language Sciences'', John Benjamins 1999, , p. 1:27-40 * Werner Hüllen, "Roget's Thesaurus, deconstructed" in ''Historical Dictionaries and Historical Dictionary Research'', papers from the ''International Conference on Historical Lexicography and Lexicology'', University of Leicester, 2002, Max Niemeyer Verlag 2004, , p. 83-94 * Werner Hüllen, ''A history of Roget's thesaurus : origins, development, and design'', Oxford University Press 2004, * Werner Hüllen, ''Networks and Knowledge in Roget's Thesaurus'', Oxford, January 2009, , * Gertrude E. Noyes, "The Beginnings of the Study of Synonyms in England", ''Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (PMLA)'' 66:6:951-970 (December 1951) * Eric Stanley, "Polysemy and Synonymy and how these Concepts were Understood from the Eighteenth Century onwards in Treatises, and Applied in Dictionaries of English" in ''Historical Dictionaries and Historical Dictionary Research'', papers from the ''International Conference on Historical Lexicography and Lexicology'', University of Leicester, 2002, Max Niemeyer Verlag 2004, , p. 157-184


References


External links

* {{Authority control Reference works Dictionaries by type Lexical semantics es:Tesauro#En literatura