As technophiles, we here at Vocab Vitamins love the fact that so much data is now at the tip of our busy, fast-typing fingers. But as enthusiastic as we are about the web and its wonders, we still firmly believe in the magic of books. Yes, even English Reference books. I am specifying ‘English’ here lest these reference books get lumped together with the tragedy of the long dead and buried encyclopedia (26 volumes, outdated as soon as they are printed for heavens sake!!). Our language is a living creature that grows and morphs measurably on an annual basis, but it is still a entity that is well served by a printed volume.
Although we do mostly use online resources, the Vocab Vitamins office holds several delicious tomes: the Webster’s Unabridged, the American Heritage, the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology and the recently added Rodale Synonym Finder. The Webster’s measures four inches thick, but our new Synomym Finder hardcover buddy is much more easily wielded. And wield it we will.
In comparison with Thesaurus.com and Bartelby.com, this is a slower, less comprehensive method of finding a suitable synonym. Also, this nifty book leans heavily on your vocabulary knowledge, as no actual definitions are given, just a list of synonyms. We all know that no two words in the English language mean exactly the same thing. There is always a shade of variance, a nuance that justifies the existence of both. So, you could be searching for a word substitute, find one that looks like a great possibility and still have to use a dictionary to look up the exact meaning and usage.
However, there has been one overarching benefit with the Synonym finder vs. online tools: When using this book, I have felt closer to the words. They have entered my consciousness, not as concepts of language, but as tangibles. What can I say? When I have to brainstorm, organize, or plan, I am useless without paper. I just think differently with a pen and a blank sheet of paper in front of me and no computer program can replicate that experience for me.
And now I am off to read my synonym dictionary!
So you don’t feel left out of the fun, here is an excerpt:
ploy n. stratagem, maneuver, gambit, move; ruse,
wile artifice, dodge, artful dodge, Sl. gimmick; sub-
terfuge, design, scheme, craft, game; trick, decoy,
red herring, feint, blind.