Originally assembled by Dr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869), Roget's Thesaurus is what most English-speaking people think of when they hear the word "thesaurus." This work dates back to 1805, when the first version was completed. It wasn't published until 1852 -- in the mean time, Roget used it as his own personal writing aid.

Modern editions of Roget's organize words into synonym sets and provide an alphabetical index. One word is selected as the exemplar for a synonym set, and, if you look up any of the synonyms, you will be directed to this examplar to find other words close in meaning. The words collected in a synonym set aren't all true synonyms, because they cover all parts of speech (e.g., a noun is never truly synonymous with an adverb).

Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.net) has released a freely available electronic version of the 1911 edition of Roget's. There are quite a few web sites that allow you to search this version:

  • http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/wessler/thes.html
  • http://www.soi.city.ac.uk/text/roget/thesaurus.html
  • http://humanities.uchicago.edu/forms_unrest/ROGET.html -- The ARTFL project at University of Chicago
  • and of course, www.thesaurus.com.

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