Which is the Best Thesaurus for Writers in 2024?

Last updated Feb 4, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

Writers of all ilk need a thesaurus. Hey, how do you think I came up with ilk? Whether you’re writing your novel, blogging for that star client or sitting the DipTrans exam, it’s essential to find the right word.

We’ve done the research for you. So, if you’re looking for a thesaurus in the form of a printed book or an online thesaurus, we’ve got you covered.

Photo of a writer sitting on a large pile of books with the words "which is the best thesaurus?"

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Our top thesaurus recommendations

Scroll down for details on each of the printed thesauruses and online thesauruses we researched. But if you want your thesaurus and you want it now, here’s what we’d get.

Best thesauruses for writers 2024 (printed books)

If you’re looking for the world’s best thesaurus, Oxford won’t let you down.

Top pick
Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
3.5
$41.95 $32.39

What we think: Well worth the price for the quality of the product and range of vocabulary.

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02/24/2024 06:34 am GMT

Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. OUR TOP PICK. Updated in 2012, the layout and additional information included in this book make it a very attractive option. I bought it even though I’m British and I love using it.

Most comprehensive
Oxford Thesaurus of English
$46.30

What we think: If you're a professional translator or writer and want an English language thesaurus packed with words and phrases, this one is the most comprehensive.

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02/24/2024 03:29 pm GMT

BUT if you want UK English, our second choice is the Oxford Thesaurus of English because it’s the most comprehensive option. This is also our recommended thesaurus if you’re a translator planning to sit the CertTrans or DipTrans exam.

Best thesaurus for learning English 2024 (printed book)

Best for English learners
Oxford Learner's Thesaurus with Cd-Rom
$40.70 $36.27

What we think: Lots of helpful info for English learners that you won't find in the other options.

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02/24/2024 02:29 pm GMT

Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus. Lots of helpful info for English learners that you won’t find in the other options in this list. Read Reviews.

Best thesaurus for children 2024 (printed book)

Best for kids and young at heart
Oxford Roald Dahl Thesaurus
$24.46

What we think: Beautifully illustrated, wonderful for budding writers. But why not try this playful thesaurus to help inspire your own writing?

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02/24/2024 02:55 pm GMT

Oxford Roald Dahl Thesaurus. Got some budding writers at home? Get their imaginations soaring (and probably yours, too) with this spliffling thesaurus. (And if you don’t have kids, just get one for yourself, no judgement here).

Best dictionary and thesaurus 2024

Best combined option
Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus
$50.00 $40.79

What we think: A good two-in-one for home puzzlers and school kids.

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02/24/2024 03:20 pm GMT

Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus is my pick as a good two-in-one for home puzzlers and school kids. If you’re a professional writer, an all-in-one like this won’t be comprehensive enough for you.

Best free online thesaurus 2024

Screenshot of the Word Hippo thesaurus homepage.

As a pro, I use both book-based and online thesauruses. The online option is useful if you’re always connected to your laptop. I encourage you to try all the free online thesauruses we’ve listed (scroll down) because they all have their pros and cons. If you’re going to try just one, give Word Hippo a go. It’s extensive and you don’t have to contend with a barrage of adverts.

Which are the best thesaurus books and online thesauruses for writers in 2024? Check out our recommendations! Click To Tweet

Printed thesauruses: detailed research

If you want to buy a thesaurus as a printed book, you can find our detailed research and review links below.

Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus 

Latest edition: 2012 (third edition)

Price: $$

Type of English: US

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.

Features

  • 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.

What we think

Our top choice because it’s pleasant to use and makes a solid addition to any writer’s toolkit. Well worth the price for the quality of the product and range of vocabulary.

Oxford Thesaurus of English

Latest edition: 2009

Price: $$

Type of English: British

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.

Features

  • 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.

What we think

If you’re a professional translator or writer and want an English language thesaurus packed with words and phrases, this one is certainly comprehensive.

Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus: A dictionary of synonyms

Latest edition: 2008

Price: $$

Type of English: British

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. It contains details to aid learning and comprehension that you wouldn’t find in an ordinary thesaurus.

Features

  • Contains 1,024 pages.
  • Over 17,000 synonyms and antonyms. Includes details to help with collocation.
  • 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.

What we think

A fairly hefty tome at 1.2 kg, this thesaurus is the best choice for speakers of English as a second language. Plus you get a Cd-Rom to help you learn.

Roald Dahl

Latest edition: 2019

Price: $

Type of English: British

The subtitle of this thesaurus is “all the words you need for magic, marvels and mischief”. For the enjoyment and inspiration of human beans of all ages, this is the thesaurus of choice for chiddlers who love to write.

Features

  • Hundreds of entries organised by theme.
  • Synonyms, related words and phrases, idioms and word origins.
  • Colourful illustrations by Quentin Blake.

What we think

The publisher describes this as “your golden ticket to dream”. Why not try a playful thesaurus to help inspire your writing? The only downside will be getting the chiddlers to keep their mucky hands off it!

Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus

Latest edition: 2007

Price: $$

Type of English: British

Oxford combines dictionary entries with lists of synonyms and antonyms for a quick all-in-one reference book. The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus is available in different sizes. We’re recommending the larger hardback for adult use.

Features

  • Contains 1,264 pages.
  • Entries include word origins and derivatives.
  • Abbreviations included as entries.

What we think

This is a two-in-one and you can only fit so much in one book. It’s a good choice for puzzlers and dictionary readers but professional writers will find it lacking.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus

Latest edition: 2020

Price: $

Type of English: US

Simple dictionary entries with synonyms and antonyms highlighted for the reader in relevant entries. Kudos to Merriam-Webster for the recentish update, which is often a problem with printed thesauruses.

Features

  • Contains 992 pages.
  • 60,000 dictionary entries with 13,600 thesaurus entries.
  • Related entries include cross-references.

What we think

The simplicity of this thesaurus may suit some but for me it’s lacking in content. I find the constant cross-referencing annoying. It’s hard to recommend this.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

Latest edition:2019

Price: $

Type of English: US

This is book one in the nine-part Writers Helping Writers series of thesauruses that every writer will drool over. I encourage you to check them all out. Each emotion is described through its definition, physical signals and behaviours, internal sensations, mental responses, signs of suppression and more. Don’t you just want this?

Features

  • Contains 130 entries covering 130 emotions.
  • Entries are broken down into sections covering body language cues, thoughts and visceral responses ranging from mild to severe.
  • Advice on conveying your characters’ emotions in your writing.
  • Tips for writers on conveying hidden emotions.

What we think

If you read all that and don’t want this book, we think you’re nuts.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus

Latest edition: 2018 (second edition)

Price: $$

Type of English: US

An updated Merriam-Webster thesaurus with synonyms and antonyms, based on words entered in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary.

Features

  • 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.

What we think

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.

Collins English Thesaurus Paperback

Latest edition: 2019

Price: $

Type of English: British

This Collins paperback thesaurus is billed as “perfect for daily use … at home, school or in the office.”

Features

  • Contains 968 pages.
  • Offers300,000 entries with synonyms and antonyms.
  • Practical usage notes and example sentences.
  • Crossword-solving supplement.
  • Clear, accessible layout makes it easy to find words.

Bottom line

This is an up-to-date paperback thesaurus that will complement your English dictionary. It represents good value for money if you don’t need an exhaustive reference source.

Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

Latest edition: 2004

Price: $

Type of English: US

First published in 1852, Roget’s Thesaurus has been subject to numerous updates. It remains the classic thesaurus for writers and English language learners.

Features

  • 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.

What we think

This classic thesaurus won’t break the bank and it’ll be a worthwhile addition to any wordsmith’s library. That said, the last update was in 2004 and there are more appealing options on this list.

Collins Thesaurus of the English Language (Collins Complete and Unabridged) 

Latest edition: 2008

Price: $$

Type of English: British

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.

Features

  • Contains 1,152 pages.
  • Offers hundreds of thousands ofwords.
  • Clear colour layout.
  • Lists of composers, capital cities and more.

What we think

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).

Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition

Latest edition: 2005 (third edition)

Price: $

Type of English: US

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.

Features

  • 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.

What we think

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.

Oxford Paperback Thesaurus

Latest edition: 2012

Price: $

Type of English: British

A general purpose English language thesaurus by the publishers who claim to make “the world’s most trusted dictionaries”.

Features

  • 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.

Pricing

A competitively priced paperback thesaurus. One of the most economic on this list.

What we think

More recently updated than some of the other options. A good choice if you’re looking for a comprehensive but compact option.

5 of the Best Free Online Thesauruses

Every writer knows that nothing beats the pleasure of working with a book thesaurus. But both printed books and online ones have their place in a writer’s day. Here are our best online thesauruses, all available for free.

Word Hippo

URL: https://www.wordhippo.com/

This is my go-to online thesaurus when I’m translating or writing for a client and I need to put my finger on a synonym quickly. It also offers antonyms, definitions, rhymes and more.

Pros

  • It’s so comprehensive that I almost always find a suitable word.
  • There’s a navigational dropdown at the top of each entry to help you find what you need.

Cons

  • It can take a while to navigate to what you need, particularly if you don’t know your noun from your verb.

Merriam-Webster Thesaurus Online

Screenshot of the home page of the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus Online

URL: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus

Merriam-Webster claims to be “America’s most trusted authority on the English language”. It’s therefore great to have the power of their thesaurus at your fingertips.

Pros

  • Synonyms are shown in darker and lighter shades to show how closely they match the word you’re searching.
  • Easy search and the left sidebar helps navigation and offers ideas.

Cons

  • Overuse of adverts (including video and pop-ups) causes screen crowding and makes the user experience uncomfortable.

OneLook Thesaurus

Screenshot of the home page of the OneLook Thesaurus

URL: https://www.onelook.com/thesaurus/

This simple thesaurus offers a clean ad-free user interface and gets you to your synonym, antonym, definition and even an idea map quickly and easily.

Pros

  • User friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Use of tabs means you can see the different synonym lists without scrolling.

Cons

  • Basic interface design feels outdated.

ChapGPT

URL: https://chat.openai.com

Yes, I know ChatGPT isn’t an online thesaurus but it can be used as one. Sometimes I’ll write a prompt like “synonyms for precise context” and it often comes up with something I can use. Give it go!

Pros

  • Good if you’re looking for a synonym for two or more words.
  • Great for helping you put your finger on just the right collocation.
  • No ads.

Cons

  • Not good for language learners because some of its suggestions are odd and you have to be able to spot that.

Thesaurus.com

Screenshot of the home page of Thesaurus.com

URL: https://www.thesaurus.com/

Thesaurs.com claims to be “most trusted online thesaurus”. It’s certainly been going for a long time. This one does what it says on the tin. Not one of my tools of choice because I hate all the adverts.

Pros

  • Clear interface with black letters on white background.
  • Underlining in darker and lighter shades helps guide you towards nearer synonyms.
  • Usage examples are helpful for English learners

Cons

  • If you don’t love pop-up adverts, page shifts caused by adverts and video adverts, you might not love this site.
  • Lacks the navigational details that other online thesauruses offer.

FAQs on choosing a thesaurus to buy

What should you look at when choosing your 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 or British 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.

What is the world’s best thesaurus?

This is a matter of opinion, but you won’t go wrong with a thesaurus published by Oxford. This publisher produces what are arguably the most-respected thesauruses and dictionaries.

Do good writers use a thesaurus?

Good writers absolutely use a thesaurus. I’d go so far as to argue that you won’t be a good writer if you don’t use one.

What is the most reliable online thesaurus?

If you’re concerned about thesaurus reliability, go for one of the established publishers like Merriam-Webster (US English), Collins (UK English) or Cambridge (UK English).

Top pick
Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
3.5
$41.95 $32.39

What we think: Well worth the price for the quality of the product and range of vocabulary.

Buy this Writer's thesaurus now Buyer reviews
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/24/2024 06:34 am GMT

Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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