Reference > Roget’s > International Thesaurus > How to Use the Book
Mawson, C.O.S., ed. (1870–1938). Roget’s International Thesaurus. 1922.
How to Use the Book
I. To find a synonym or antonym for any given WORD:
Turn to the Index Guide and find the particular word or any term of kindred meaning; then refer to the category indicated. Under the part of speech sought for [N., V., Adj., Adv.] will be found a wide choice of synonymous and correlative terms, with their antonyms in the adjoining column. For example, suppose a synonym is wanted for the word “rare” in the sense of “choice.” Turn to the Index Guide, where the following references will be found:—
   exceptional 83
   few 103
   infrequent 137
   underdone 298
   tenuous 322
   neologic 563
   choice 648
The italicized words denote the general sense of the affinitive terms in the respective categories. Turning to No. 648 (the sense required) we select the most appropriate expression from the comprehensive list presented. To widen the selection, suggested references are given to allied lists; while in the parallel column, viz., 649, are grouped the corresponding antonyms. The groups are arranged, not merely to supply synonyms for some special word, but to suggest new lines of thought and to stimulate the imagination.
   The story-writer at a loss for some archaism, colloquialism, or even slang, will find the International Thesaurus a veritable mine, such terms being clearly indicated in the text.   2
II. To find suitable words to express a given IDEA:
   Find in the Index Guide some word relating to the idea, and the categories referred to will supply the need. Thus, suppose a writer wishes to use some less hackneyed phrase than “shuffle off this mortal coil,” let him look up “die” or even the phrase itself, and reference to No. 360 will immediately furnish a generous list of synonymous phrases.   3
III. To find appropriate words or new ideas on any given SUBJECT:
   Turn up the subject or any branch of it. The Index Guide itself will frequently suggest various lines of thought, while reference to the indicated groups will provide many words and phrases that should prove helpful.   4
   Thus, suppose “philosophy” is the theme, No. 451 will be found most suggestive. Or again, the subject may be “the drama” (599), “music” (415), “zoölogy” (368), “psychical research” (992a), or “mythology” (979). The writer may perhaps be hazy about the titles of the ruling chiefs of India. The Thesaurus (875) will prevent his applying a Hindu title to a Mohammedan prince. The subject may be such an everyday one as “food” (298), “automobiles” (272), “aviation” (267 and 269a), or various kinds of “amusements” (840); whatever it is, the Thesaurus will not prove altogether unprofitable as regards ideas. Writers and speakers who have acquired the “Roget habit” do not need to be reminded of this valuable aid.   5
   N.B. To grasp the underlying principle of the classification, study the Tabular Synopsis of Categories. Reference may be made direct from this Synopsis to the body of the work; but it is usually found more convenient to consult the Index Guide first.   6
[See also Abbreviations]


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