Lost in a Sea of Words!

2nd Edn. PB $27.95

Peter E Meltzer has come up with an intriguing new take on a thesaurus – one of those potentially useful word reference books that most of us have but rarely use!  The word comes directly from Latin, to which it came from ancient Greek,  θησαυρός=thesauros, meaning a collection of things which are of big importance or value!

The original thesaurus of words was from Dr Peter Mark Roget who, in 1852, said ” We seek in vain the words we need, and strive ineffectually to devise forms of expression which shall faithfully portray our thoughts and sentiments.”  So he came up with his Thesaurus being a list of ‘base words’, arranged conceptually, with paragraphs of synonyms and similar words.  The orginal format has sometimes been changed to alphabetical order and many dictionaries provide synonyms with their definitions these days, especially student versions.  Peter Meltzer maintains that traditional thesauruses [thesauri] aren’t widely used because the lists are boring! They give you suggestions of words that you already know and have often subconsciously rejected!

So the Thinker’s Thesaurus changes that and offers interesting and sometimes obscure synonyms for many of a word’s meanings.  It also breaks with Roget’s idea of only offering synonyms of the same type of word.  Nouns for nouns, adjectives for adjectives etc.  Some words defy a simple synonym e.g. Elope – clearly marriage, wedding etc is involved but also the idea of running away, escape etc.

An example of the entries is that for ‘fraud’.  We find subreption, Tartuffe, postiche, thimblerig, mountebank, mare’s nest and imposture!  Only ‘subreption’ isn’t recognised by my spell-checker but of course you’ll need to be cautious when dropping ‘thimblerig’ into conversation but what a colourful list!  The entry for ‘excellent’ puts up eximious, galumptious, palmary, skookum, pukka and frabjous.  Only the last two of these are recognised by my spell-checker but in the right context, this is a treasure chest of alternatives!

First published in 2005, this is the expanded 2nd Edition.  It is a skookum idea for a thoroughly utile addition to a reference atheneum!

For those interested in words and language this is entertaining reading and for others it offers, at last, a thesaurus that might actually get used.  At just $27.95 it is great value.


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Filed under Non-fiction Reviews, Reviews

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