Sunday, February 21, 2021

Synonym + Antonym = Crucial Reference Tome

By Claire Booth

I do most of my writing at home, so I’m never really limited by having to pack my laptop and various things into a manageable bag in order to take them somewhere. Which means I have some truly massive reference books. 


Like the three-pound Chicago Manual of Style—painful in a shoulder bag and painful because, well, it’s the Chicago Manual of Style (yawn). And my trusty Oxford Pocket American Thesaurus, which despite its name measures eight-by-five inches and weighs more than a pound and a half. I know—compared with other Oxford reference books (OED anyone?) my little volume is the equivalent of a pamphlet. But it’s still not exactly something you tuck in your purse.

Then one day I needed a synonym while I was out in the world. So I had to use my phone. And man, is there a lot of crap out there. Half-ass attempts, or ones with a maze of links to get through in order to see a list of words. But then I alighted on It’s easy to use (i.e. quick), with a clean interface and few if any ads. And I’ve found that the Macmillan includes more phrases and out-of-left field suggestions. Now I use it all the time.

I still love flipping through the Oxford’s physical pages—my eyes landing on entries I wasn’t even looking for, getting sucked down the wonderful rabbit hole of words. But if you need something portable and just as good (if not quite as rabbit-holey), I highly recommend the truly pocket-sized Macmillan online thesaurus.

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