8 resources for finding the perfect word

If you’re searching for a specific term or looking to get out of a repetitive rut, these tools can help.

I once worked with someone who used the word “secure” continually. He would write:

“We need to secure advertisers.”
“Have you secured a printer for the annual report yet?”
“I’m not feeling secure about our chances of securing this contract.”

I often found myself correcting his writing and replacing “secure” with alternatives such as “obtain,” “get,” “acquire” and “find,” but he was set on the word “secure” and would often change it back.

The importance of varying our words to keep readers interested cannot be overstated.

However, it’s no easy task. How many times have you sat at the computer, grasping for that perfect word?

Here are resources to help you find the term you seek. Using them will make you feel like a kid in a candy store tyke in a confectionery:

1. Collins English Thesaurus

This online thesaurus has more than 1 million synonyms and antonyms, along with quotations and translations to other languages.

2. Idioms at The Free Dictionary

Enter a word, and you’ll get a list of common phrases in which the word appears. This tool can help you write headlines or develop a play on words.

3. “Synonym Finder” by J.I. Rodale

This book is worth keeping on your desk. A thesaurus on steroids, it contains more than a million synonyms. Entries include slang and informal terms, along with archaic, scientific and other specialized words.

4. Thsrs (The Shorter Thesaurus)

The Shorter Thesaurus enables you to enter long words and receive shorter synonyms. It’s especially useful if you want to simplify your writing or shorten a message for Twitter.

5. The Visual Thesaurus

This resource is an online dictionary and thesaurus that creates word maps based on your entry. It’s available by subscription, but you can use the trial version to test it out.

6. WordHippo

WordHippo enables you to search for words under categories such as “rhymes with,” “sentences with,” “adverb for” and “past tense of.”

7. Wordnik

Worknik is an online dictionary that shows definitions from multiple sources, showing as many different meanings as possible. The site lists hypernyms and hyponyms for each word; it also includes a reverse dictionary.

8. Wordsmith’s Anagram Generator

Enter a word, and it scrambles the letters into other words. Though the generator not very useful for corporate writing, it’s fun to play with.

What other word sources would you add to the list, PR Daily readers?

Laura Hale Brockway is writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work on PR Daily and at impertinentremarks.

(Image by Steve Johnson, via)


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