As a writer, I have become shamefully dependent on my thesaurus. By which, of course, I generally mean the Internet, since actually taking my fingers off the keyboard is a task too frightening to contemplate (and the thesauri in OpenOffice and Word are rudimentary at best).
Until a few weeks ago, I have been very happy with Thesaurus.com. I’ve used it something like three million times a day, usually with the help of a handy Yahoo widget that sat on top of my documents, and gave me bundles of synonyms at the click of a mouse. But then, a few weeks ago, the site came down with a serious case of uselessness.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed this, although the roars of outrage online seem to be muted. Comments in this blog seem to indicate that the company has switched reference tools, from Roget’s New Millenium (good) to Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus. As with most sequels, this one is crummy. Parent company Lexico’s blog doesn’t mention any switch at all.
The thing is, I’d even pay for a good thesaurus. But it appears that even the premium version of Thesaurus.com has been eviscerated. Or at least there’s nothing indicating otherwise.
Luckily, the Internet steps in to save the day. Mirriam-Websters’ thesaurus function is too inconsistent to use, but a bit of hunting found me this searchable 1911 Roget’s, put out by the University of Chicago and the lovely, lovely Project Gutenberg. Granted, a lot of words have changed or emerged in that last 100 years. But searches there return a vast and inspiring list of cross-referenced synonyms, rather than a few paltry suggestions.
There’s even a Firefox plugin. What’s not to like?