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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 writers to help find the best word to express an idea:

Organization

Conceptual

Roget's original thesaurus was organized into 1000 conceptual Heads (e.g., 806 Debt) organized into a four-level taxonomy. For example, liability was classed under V.ii.iv: Class five, Volition: the exercise of the will; Division Two: Social volition; Section 4: Possessive Relations; Subsection 4: Monetary relations.[18] 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 [17]

Roget's original thesaurus was organized into 1000 conceptual Heads (e.g., 806 Debt) organized into a four-level taxonomy. For example, liability was classed under V.ii.iv: Class five, Volition: the exercise of the will; Division Two: Social volition; Section 4: Possessive Relations; Subsection 4: Monetary relations.[18] 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-references to other Heads.

The book starts with a Tabular Synopsis of Categories laying out the hierarchy,[19] 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.[20]

Some recent versions have kept the same organization, though often with more detail under each Head.[19] 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.[20]

Some recent versions have kept the same organization, though often with more detail under each Head.[21] Others have made modest changes such as eliminating the four-level taxonomy and adding new heads: one has 1075 Heads in fifteen Classes.[22]

Some non-English thesauri have also adopted this model.[23]

Other thesauri and synonym dictionaries are organized alphabetically.

Most repeat the list of synonyms under each word.[24][25][24][25][26][27]

Some designate a principal entry for each concept and cross-reference it.[28][29][30]

A third system interfiles words and conceptual headings. Francis March's Thesaurus Dictionary gives for liability: CONTINGENCY, CREDIT–DEBT, DUTY–DERELICTION, LIBERTY–SUBJECTION, MONEY, each of which is a conceptual heading.[31] The CREDIT—DEBT 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),[32] 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.[7]

Before Roget, most thesauri and dictionary synonym notes included discussions of the differences among near-synonyms, as do some modern ones.[27][26][25][2]

A few modern synonym dictionaries, notably in French, are primarily devoted to discussing the precise demarcations among synonyms.[33][7]

A few modern synonym dictionaries, notably in French, are primarily devoted to discussing the precise demarcations among synonyms.[33][7]

Some include short definitions.[31]

Some give illustrative phrases.[27]

Some include lists of objects by category, e.g. breeds of dogs.[27]

The Some give illustrative phrases.[27]

Some include lists of objects by category, e.g. breeds of dogs.[27]

The Historical Thesaurus of English (2009) is organized taxonomically, and 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".[34]

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.[35] Another one is organized taxonomically with examples, translations, and some usage notes.[36]

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