Whether you’re working for that star client, doing a crossword, writing a special CV cover letter or sitting an exam, it’s essential to find the right word. That’s where a thesaurus comes in. But with so many options to choose from, what’s the best thesaurus to use? We’ve done the research for you. So, if you’re wondering which is the most suitable thesaurus for your needs, read on.
How do you choose a thesaurus?
Here are some important things to consider when you choose a thesaurus:
1. Date of the most recent edition. The English language is constantly evolving. The more recent the thesaurus edition, the more relevant it’s likely to be to your needs.
2. Number of entries. This will have a big impact on price. If you’re a professional translator or writer, it’ll be worth investing in a more comprehensive thesaurus. If you’re a student or want to add a thesaurus to your bookshelf at home to help with crosswords, a smaller one will probably do the job.
3. Synonyms and antonyms. The inclusion of antonyms is a useful feature for writers. But it’ll probably increase the size and cost of the thesaurus so consider whether or not you’re going to use them.
4. Target audience. Some thesauruses are specially designed for English language learners. Others are more suited to speakers of American English. Look for one created to fulfil your needs.
5. Features. Certain thesauruses include example phrases, definitions, Latin phrases, special sections for vocabulary building and additional online materials. Perhaps those features matter to you and perhaps they don’t. This can affect how much you spend.
If you’re a translator planning to sit the DipTrans exam, you can only use paper resources. We highly recommend including a thesaurus among your resources as it can come in handy in all parts of the exam.
DISCLOSURE: We sometimes review or link to products and services we think you might find helpful. Wherever possible we use referral links. This means if you click one of the links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission or other compensation.
Conclusion on which is the best thesaurus for writers and translators in 2022
Scroll down for more information on each of the thesauruses researched. But if you’re impatient to find out the winner, here are our recommendations.
Best thesaurus for writers and translators 2022: Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. Having been updated in 2012, the layout and additional information included in this book make it a very attractive option as the best thesaurus for writers and translators. I bought it even though I write in UK English and I love it.
BUT, if you’re outside the US and the shipping cost is too high or if you want UK English, our second choice is the Oxford Thesaurus of English because it’s the most comprehensive option.
Best choice for the home bookshelf: Collins English Thesaurus Paperback. Recently updated and with plenty of content for your average user.
Best choice for learning English: Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus. Lots of helpful info for English learners that you won’t find in the other options in this list.Which is the best English thesaurus book to buy in 2022? Check out our recommendations! Click To Tweet
Oxford Thesaurus of English
Latest edition: 2009
This is Oxford’s top-of-the-range hardback thesaurus of the English language. The 2009 edition was fully updated and redesigned using real information from the Oxford English Corpus.
- Contains 1,072 pages.
- Over 600,000 synonyms and antonyms.
- More than 35,000 examples of real English and help with easily confused words.
- Central section with lists of words by topic (society, religion, fashion, technology, etc.).
- Word toolkit created using the Oxford English Corpus to show the most common related words.
One of the biggest investments on this list, but plenty to get your teeth into.
The Oxford thesaurus costs more than other options. But if you’re a professional translator or writer and want an English language thesaurus packed with words and phrases, this one is certainly comprehensive.
Buy the Oxford Thesaurus of English
Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus: A dictionary of synonyms
Latest edition: 2008
This thesaurus is designed to help students of English understand the differences between similar words in the English language, in both written and spoken contexts.
- Contains 1,024 pages.
- Over 17,000 synonyms and antonyms.
- Each entry has a group of 3-10 near synonyms.
- Each synonym is explained in terms of meaning, grammar and register, with example sentences.
- Notes highlight and explain similar words that are easily confused.
- Includes a CD with all the words in the thesaurus.
A mid-priced thesaurus that offers good value for money.
A fairly hefty tome at 1.2 kg, this thesaurus is a great choice for speakers of English as a second language.
Buy the Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus with Cd-Rom
Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
Latest edition: 2004
First published in 1852, Roget’s Thesaurus has been subject to numerous updates. It remains the classic thesaurus for English language learners and writers.
- Contains 848 pages.
- More than 250,000 synonyms.
- Revised and updated to include slang, buzzwords and the latest phrases.
- Compact and easy to use.
- Covers formal and technical English.
This compact thesaurus has a compact price too. It represents good value for money.
This classic thesaurus won’t break the bank. It’s a worthwhile addition to any wordsmith’s library, despite the last update being in 2004.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language (Collins Complete and Unabridged)
Latest edition: 2008
If you’re looking for a comprehensive thesaurus from a respected publisher, the Collins will help you find the words you need. The print version was most recently updated in 2008, but it claims to be the most complete thesaurus in the UK.
- Contains 1,152 pages.
- Offers hundreds of thousands of words.
- Clear colour layout.
- Lists of composers, capital cities and more.
This is a mid-priced thesaurus.
Though heavy to be ported around (2.2kg), this is a comprehensive thesaurus. While a little more costly than some others on this list, the main drawback is perhaps the fact that it hasn’t been updated since 2008.
Buy the Collins Thesaurus of the English Language (Collins Complete and Unabridged)
Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
Latest edition: 2012 (third edition)
An authoritative guide to American English vocabulary. This goldmine of words and information includes a language guide, literary words and a Latin phrases section to help you with your writing.
- Contains 1,128 pages.
- Offers 300,000 synonyms and 10,000 antonyms.
- Has 200 literary and humorous quotations.
- Graphical word toolkit feature showing common word combinations drawn from the Oxford Corpus.
- Formatted like a dictionary, making it easy to find the word you’re looking for.
This represents a bigger investment than smaller thesauruses, but it’s well worth it for the quality of the product and range of vocabulary.
A good addition to your toolkit, especially if you’re working with American English.
Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition
Latest edition: 2005 (third edition)
Created by the highly respected Princeton Language Institute. The cover of this edition claims it offers more than one million word choices, supposedly more than any other thesaurus. Concise definitions are provided for each word entry.
- Has 500,000 synonyms and antonyms.
- User-friendly dictionary format.
- Concept index that arranges words by idea.
- Hundreds of recently coined and common slang terms.
This thesaurus is small but the price reflects its compact nature. A low investment that will help you in your writing.
This is a good option if you’re looking for a compact thesaurus packed with content at a low price. A couple of things to bear in mind are that it hasn’t been updated since 2005 so the “recently coined” slang may be dated. Also, the print is small.
Buy the Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition (21st Century Reference)
Oxford Paperback Thesaurus
Latest edition: 2012
A general purpose English language thesaurus by the publishers who claim to make “the world’s most trusted dictionaries”.
- Over 300,000 synonyms and antonyms.
- Central section with themed lists to help users broaden their vocabulary.
- Tabs on the pages for each letter of the alphabet for fast word look-up.
A competitively priced paperback thesaurus. One of the most economic on this list.
More recently updated than some of the other options. A good choice if you’re looking for a comprehensive but compact option.
Buy the Oxford Paperback Thesaurus
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus
Latest edition: 2018 (second edition)
An updated collection of synonyms and antonyms, based on words entered in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary.
- Contains 1,184 pages
- Over 275,000 word choices, example sentences, and explanations.
- Usage examples for every synonym.
- Alphabetical lists with related words, idiomatic phrases and near antonyms.
- Recently revised and updated.
A mid-priced English language thesaurus that offers good value for money.
This is one of the most up-to-date thesauruses on the market. However, some users complain it focuses too much on definitions rather than synonyms. It’ll be of particular interest as a mid-priced thesaurus for speakers of American English.
Buy the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus (second edition)
Collins English Thesaurus Paperback
Latest edition: 2019
This Collins paperback thesaurus is billed as “perfect for daily use … at home, school or in the office.”
- Contains 968 pages.
- Offers 300,000 entries with synonyms and antonyms.
- Practical usage notes and example sentences.
- Crossword-solving supplement.
- Clear, accessible layout makes it easy to find words.
This is a lower-priced thesaurus because it’s less comprehensive than others. It represents good value for money if you don’t need an exhaustive reference source.
This is an up-to-date paperback thesaurus that will complement your English dictionary. It represents great value for money.
Buy the Collins English Thesaurus Paperback Edition
Building up your collection of books and tools? Check out our similar articles:
- Which is the Best CAT Tool?
- Best French-English Dictionaries (Books)
- Best Spanish-English Dictionaries (Books)
Sign up for our newsletter in the column to the right!