As Mark Twain famously said,
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.
Thesaurus.com is now better equipped than ever to help you find that lightning word.
The other day I was struggling to think of the perfect word to use in a letter of recommendation for a former student. “Deftly” was close, but not quite right, so I headed to Thesaurus.com for inspiration. I was expecting to see something like this:
Instead I was greeted with this:
What a welcome surprise! Here’s a quick summary of the new features:
- Entries are separated on different tabs so you can focus on the meaning you intend.
- You can sort by relevance (then alphabetically within a given level of relevance) so the most probable words are first.
- You can highlight only words of a certain complexity or length or those that are common or informal.
- The visually appealing column format makes skimming easier.
But “delicately” wasn’t the sense in which I meant “deftly,” so I checked the “cleverly” tab. I knew I wanted a short word, so I used that slider. My lightning word was now clear: “ably.”
To see what the rest of the options looked like, I also explored the “shrewdly” tab. This output is sorted alphabetically and is organized in a list, so it looks the most like the old Thesaurus.com format*, but it still has the new functionality of highlighting only the common words:
My one complaint is you can’t use multiple highlighting options at once (for example, you can’t highlight words that are simple, short, common, and informal). Perhaps this will be addressed in future upgrades. I’m also curious about how complexity is measured. After testing a few words, I found some non-intuitive results with that option.
Overall, these changes are very welcome. The new Thesaurus.com is better than ever, so there’s no excuse to settle for a lightning-bug word when you can find the perfect bolt of inspiration instead.
*If you really miss it for some reason, you do still have the option to revert to the old version of the website.