For this task one might use a thematic dictionary, AKA a word menu, or a thesaurus.
The first thematic dictionary I had ever seen was Descriptionary by Marc McCutcheon. It useful for some select categories, but it leaves out much more than it includes. (It has sections such as Art Terms, Religions, Clothing, Weapons, Medical Terms, and Architecture, among others).
My new favourite is the Random House Word Menu by Stephen Glazier. It's much bigger, but even with more categories, more words in each category, and an index, it still leaves out a lot.
Thesauruses aren't quite as useful, first because their main task is gouping words meanings, which is not useful in this case, and second because they tend to avoid nouns. But Roget's Thesaurus, at least, gives you a 'tabular synopsis of categories' which has proved useful to me in the past. This attempts to order the words by type, and does a pretty good job of it.
The best solution is to have a large reference library at your disposal. Find some old textbook on the subject your word belongs too and explore around.