Which thesaurus (online or paper) best describes the differences between several similar words? As a non-native English speaker, it is often difficult for me to distinguish the slightly different concepts in similar words. I'm looking for a good online dictionary or thesaurus that compares those synonyms word by word.

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I use the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus.

But well, many online dictionaries provide synonymous terms, even if they are not specifically Thesaurus.

For example, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary sometimes provides synonyms for the terms you search. In such cases it shows the differences in meaning and, above all, in usage. But this is not always the case, unfortunately.

  • the last sentence is ambiguous. also, you could make the first one link when it gets more attention. – Gigili May 9 '11 at 8:27
  • @zizi: Sentence improved. – Alenanno May 9 '11 at 8:28
  • The first one can't be linked, it's in my computer. About the second, I'm not aware of any limit about adverbs' use. – Alenanno May 9 '11 at 8:31
  • problem solved! I didn't say it's false, i smelled problems! – Gigili May 9 '11 at 8:40

if you actually subscribe to Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences and want your synonyms and antonyms "described" to you in pictures, then check out the Visual Thesaurus. Here's an example using "articulate": the word "articulate" in The Visual Thesaurus


I found a good reference here. You can simply use Google by the way.


WordNet is very good indeed for this, and other kinds of questions like this, because it was constructed specifically for that purpose. In their own words:

WordNet superficially resembles a thesaurus, in that it groups words together based on their meanings. However, there are some important distinctions. First, WordNet interlinks not just word forms—strings of letters—but specific senses of words. As a result, words that are found in close proximity to one another in the network are semantically disambiguated.


Using Thesaurus.com for me has the most advantages. It gives approximately 20 synonyms every time I search for a word. And because it's on the internet and free, it is easily accessible, all the time.

  • 1
    nothing is accessible all the time. – Gigili May 9 '11 at 8:01
  • 1
    A list of synonyms alone isn't quite helpful. Often, I was disappointed by the circular definition of those synonyms. – czh May 9 '11 at 9:22
  • the thing about this website is it's kind of combined with a dictionary, so any time you are unsure as to the meaning, just search under a different section. – Thursagen May 11 '11 at 6:39

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