Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus

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Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus

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Word reference books include dictionaries and thesauri. A dictionary is a book that provides alphabetical lists of terms with definitions, etymologies, and pronunciations, but a thesaurus is a book that contains synonyms and even antonyms. For example, a dictionary defines a time and demonstrates how it is spelled and used. A thesaurus is a book containing words that you may substitute for another term. Unlike a dictionary, a thesaurus organizes words alphabetically (as in a dictionary) or thematically (as in a thesaurus) (remarks of similar meanings grouped).

A thesaurus, unlike a dictionary, provides a list of alternative terms for each item. A thesaurus is handy for people like authors and business people who need different words to communicate their point more effectively.

There are a variety of thesauri, some of which provide extra information such as the definition of a word, parts of speech, and so on. Some thesauruses may also include phrases, sentences, and clauses containing easy-to-understand terms. Student thesauruses and esoteric thesauruses are also available. When it comes to dictionaries, there are many different types to pick from. Some dictionaries use the International Phonetic Alphabet to illustrate pronunciation, whereas others use the alphabet. Most dictionaries not only define words but also explain how to use them and what parts of speech they belong to. They might also include antonyms. Language dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries are available in addition to English dictionaries. Finally, other dictionaries are dedicated to specific fields like medicine and geography.

Thesaurus vs. Dictionary

A dictionary and a thesaurus are word reference books that are necessary resources for authors and language learners. The significant distinction between a dictionary and a thesaurus is that a dictionary contains the spelling, meaning, and pronunciation of particular words in a language, whereas a thesaurus has synonyms. A dictionary differs from a thesaurus in that it may teach you more about a term and how to apply it in phrases. Still, a thesaurus can provide you with synonyms or antonyms.

People use dictionaries to look for facts, definitions, use, etymologies, pronunciations, translations, and much more on a particular topic. It is used by visitors, interpreters, and language learners to aid in developing their language skills.

On the other hand, people utilize a thesaurus to expand their vocabulary by providing synonyms and antonyms for each term. The list contains all the terms with a similar meaning or a small amount of the original word's essence.

Differences Between Dictionary and Thesaurus in Tabular Form

Table: Thesaurus vs. Dictionary
This alphabetical collection of terms in one or more distinct languages
Provides the meanings, definitions, etymologies, and pronunciations of words.
A book containing words grouped based on similar meanings, synonyms, and antonyms.
The First Edition
Modern Syria dates from 2300 BCE, while China dates from the 3rd century BCE. The Oxford Dictionary was published in 1884 as a series of short publications and was finally published incomplete in 1928 after 50 years.
Peter Mark Roget wrote the first modern English thesaurus in 1852.
It is alphabetically arranged
It is arranged alphabetically and conceptually
Word Count
About 500,000 words and a half-million technical and scientific terminology are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.
More than 920,000 words are contained in the world's largest thesaurus.
A dictionary's purpose is to offer orthography, pronunciation, and meaning of words in a specific language.
The purpose of a thesaurus is to assist the writer in finding more appropriate words and avoiding term repetition.
There are specialist dictionaries for science and business, for example.
Special thesauri are created for information retrieval in information and scientific systems: a regulated vocabulary for indexing or labeling.
Describes the meaning of a term in various languages.
One language is used only.

What Is Thesaurus?

For learning word definitions, a thesaurus is more of an etymological dictionary. According to the Oxford dictionary, a thesaurus is "a book that lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts." A thesaurus can tell you a lot about other words that have the same meaning as what you're looking for. Another way, a thesaurus can provide both synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms are terms with the same meaning as the phrase you're looking for, whereas antonyms have the opposite meaning.

A thesaurus is a tool that most people, especially writers, utilize to locate synonyms and antonyms. Usually, a thesaurus does not provide much insight into the origins of words. Similarly, it usually does not include further information regarding the etymology of the terms. However, other words, such as nominal forms, adjectival forms, and adverbial forms, can be found in a thesaurus.

The first thesaurus was produced by Dr. Peter Mark Roget, a British doctor, and mathematician. In approximately 1805, he began collecting synonyms and soon had a beautiful, little index of them that he utilized for his literary efforts. In the 1840s, he realized that his list might be helpful to others, so he left his employment as a doctor and dedicated himself full-time to developing his collection and preparing it for publication. In 1852, the first thesaurus was published, and it has remained in publication ever since.

What Is a Thesaurus and How Do I Use It?

Now it's time to put your thesaurus skills to the test. Let's return to your summer vacation text as an example. We need to develop some synonyms for the word "interesting." We can discover various choices if we search up the word in a printed copy of Roget's Thesaurus, including:

  • Fascinating
  • Enthralling
  • Engrossing
  • Absorbing
  • Appealing
  • Colorful

Different Types of Thesauri

As we have learned about a thesaurus, there are many types of thesauri.

Classic Thesaurus

At the time of indexing and searching, a traditional thesaurus is employed. Indexers employ the thesaurus to link variant terms to preferred terms when doing document-level indexing. Searchers utilize the thesaurus for retrieval whether they are aware of its importance in their search experience. Query phrases are matched against the thesaurus's extensive lexicon, allowing for synonym management, hierarchical browsing, and associative linking.

Indexing Thesaurus

On the other hand, building a traditional thesaurus is not necessarily required or practicable. For example, consider the following scenario: you can create a restricted vocabulary and index documents, but you cannot include synonym management in the search experience. Perhaps another department controls the search engine and will not collaborate with you, or the machine will not provide this capability without significant customization.

What Is a Dictionary?

"A book or computer resource that lists the words of a language (usually in alphabetical order) and offers their meaning, or gives the equivalent words in another language, often with information about pronunciation, origin, and usage," according to the Oxford English Dictionary. In other terms, a dictionary is a grammatical and etymological instrument for teaching knowledge of a language's vocabulary. It details the needed topic, including definitions, use, etymologies, pronunciations, translations, etc. It also specifies which parts of speech the term belongs to. The definition of a term can also be found in a dictionary. A dictionary is also an etymological or grammatical instrument for word and language understanding. A dictionary aids in the learning of one's language as well as foreign languages by providing extensive grammatical information. Tourists, interpreters, and language learners utilize them to improve their word knowledge.

There are two sorts of dictionaries: general dictionaries and specialist dictionaries. Rather than a whole book of terms from all areas and genres, the specialized dictionary has a selection of words from a specific topic. On the other hand, the general dictionary is the standard dictionary, which contains all terms and is not separated into any categories.

Apart from these two, a few other dictionaries are available nowadays, including bilingual dictionaries (translation), defining dictionaries, historical dictionaries, collegiate dictionaries, electronic dictionaries, reverse dictionaries, and visual, phonetic dictionaries, and satirical dictionaries.

How to Use a Dictionary?

  • Because dictionaries are organized alphabetically, beginning with the first letter of the term you're looking for.
  • There will be several entries for each letter of the alphabet, so use the guiding word at the top of the page to direct you. The guide word indicates which word appears first or last on that dictionary page.
  • To discover it, you'll need to look at the second letter in the word, then the third, etc. Finding words rapidly needs some practice.
  • r. Scanning is a method of fast reading to find the information you need. The more you practice, the faster you will get at discovering words.

Different Types of Dictionary


Descriptive Dictionary

The language is described in descriptive dictionaries. They include terms that are regularly used, even if they are uncommon. They frequently use nonstandard spellings. The reality is that almost all English language dictionaries nowadays are descriptive. The editors typically claim that they are only documenting the language and how its terms are used and spelled. True, there may be some direction.

Prescriptive Dictionary

They specify how words should be used and spelled. But unfortunately, I discovered it was not in a school dictionary, a descriptive dictionary.

This was not true of the earliest dictionaries published in England and America. They were direct.  He was writing to both entertain and inform. Johnson also concluded that the English language could not be regulated - that it could not be restricted to a set amount of words. This, however, had nothing to do with appropriateness or accuracy.

Main Differences Between Thesaurus and Dictionary in Points

  • In contemporary Syria, a dictionary was first formally published in 2300 BCE, but a thesaurus was produced much later, in 1852, by Peter Mark.
  • A dictionary is a collection of alphabetical terms containing information, definitions, use, etymologies, pronunciations, translations, and much more on a specific topic. On the other hand, a thesaurus is a collection of words that are listed together with their synonyms and antonyms.
  • A dictionary is alphabetical, whereas a thesaurus arranges words alphabetically or thematically.
  • The Oxford dictionary has over 500,000 words, but the most remarkable thesaurus contains over 920,000 terms.
  • A dictionary is recognized and used by a more significant number of individuals, whereas a thesaurus is recognized and used by a smaller number of people.
  • A dictionary gives information on a term in multiple languages, but a thesaurus only provides synonyms and antonyms in the same language.
  • A dictionary can also be available in more than one language, such as the English to French Dictionary, which provides a collection of terms in one language and their counterparts in another. Usually, this is not the case with a thesaurus.
  • Dictionaries are increasingly used to determine a word's definition, pronunciation, and spelling. In addition, writers use a thesaurus to locate synonyms and antonyms to find a better term or avoid repeating the same word repeatedly.


Both a dictionary and a thesaurus are tools that aid in acquiring further information and understanding a specific topic. They help in the development of a person's knowledge. These instruments operate in very distinct ways and may be distinguished based on definition, first publication, arrangement, goal, usage, and language.

A dictionary is a book that contains a list of terms from a specific language, usually in alphabetical order, together with their definitions and use. A thesaurus is a reference book that includes a categorized collection of synonyms and antonyms and etymologies, pronunciations, gender, and parts of speech. A thesaurus usually does not provide more information on a word's origin, but it includes information about its various forms, such as nominal, adjectival, and adverbial forms.

A thesaurus is a collection of alphabetical terms containing information such as definitions, use, etymologies, pronunciations, translations, and much more on a specific topic. A dictionary's words are ordered alphabetically. On the other hand, a thesaurus is a collection of words that are listed together with their synonyms and antonyms. A thesaurus' words are organized alphabetically or logically.



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"Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus." Diffzy.com, 2023. Sun. 29 Jan. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-dictionary-and-thesaurus-50>.

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