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Similar to how a thesaurus lists synonyms, is there a book that groups words (or phrases) together by conceptual usage?

For example, this question is looking for words that describe a person's character. I would be interested in a book that would help me identify words commonly used to describe

  • an inanimate object
  • a physical motion
  • nature

Ideally this would highlight what is considered a cliche description.

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I would tag this question "concordance" but I don't have enough rep to create a new tag. – LamonteCristo Jun 18 '11 at 12:38
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Roget's Original Thesaurus was organized exactly that way. Its table of contents is organized by general theme; it is only once you traverse down to single words that he provides the set of synonyms.

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+1 for Roget's! – Callithumpian Jun 18 '11 at 16:11

I'm not sure if it's exactly what you have in mind, but you might try looking for a "thematic dictionary". One that I own is "The Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English". A search for "thematic dictionary" (including the double quotes) on Google yields lots of hits.

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