We all know the feeling of having a piece of writing that just feels dull. Whether it’s that write-up your boss has been looking for or your semester paper, we all need something to help spruce up our writing. As both a for-fun writer and a student, one sure way to liven up a piece of writing is to lace in some colorful vocabulary. Though I consider myself quite the sesquipedalian (perfect example right there), one can’t be expected to come up with such zesty words themselves. That’s why my handiest tool as a writer is Thesaurus.com. “It not only makes me look smart, but it actually makes me smarter,” says Justin Nwoye ‘21 from Ogden.
Once you open the page, the first thing you see is the “Synonym of the Day,” where it gives you a word and quizzes you to identify the synonym. At the time of writing this, the Synonym of the Day is “luxuriate” and “indulge.” Useful, right? As you scroll down, you’ll find the sites “Grammar and Writing Tips,” where it suggests articles to “elevate and improve your speech, writing, and vocabulary.” “This section makes me look at my writing from an outside perspective,” says Phia Morris ‘21, “almost like someone else is going to read it.” Today, the articles included “Should you stop saying these words?: Let’s leave these in 2020, shall we?” and “Math vs. Maths: Are they both right?” At the bottom of the page is a section for “Synonyms for Overused Words”, which is pretty straight forward. Today, the words were “old”, “great”, and “small”, or, should I say, “antiquated,” “superior,” and “paltry.”While all of these handy tools are useful, the main function of the site is to find synonyms. Remaining at the top of the page through all of your exploring is a search bar. Here, you enter in the word you are looking to replace. Once you click enter, you are given a gaggle of words synonymous with the one you entered, sorted by relevance. By clicking on a new synonym of your choice, you are shown its definition along with synonyms for that word, as well.
As you can see, Thesaurus.com is a goldmine for essays in need for a more personal touch. But could this site offer too much of a good thing? In my opinion, yes. To bosses, professors, teachers, or even your average reader, there is a clear distinction between the writer who artfully places words, both complex and simple, in a logical, organic way and the writer who brashly tosses as many four-syllable words as they can, with no regard for the flow or tone of the piece. Sarah Moore from The Write Practice has an in-depth article on how to use big words without making a fool of yourself, if you’re interested in becoming that much-appreciated artful writer, which you should be. “Most of the time, people who use a lot of big words only use them to look smarter than they actually are,” says Cameron Coogler ‘21 from ChiArts. “It makes them look stupid.”
Thesaurus.com is a tool that is inconspicuously strong. A tool that, for some, will bring great fortune and, for others, a crash-and-burn failure. “With great power, comes great responsibility” is a quote that comes to mind in regards to this site. A big vocabulary is a heavy weapon, so use it wisely.