Macmillan’s free online thesaurus and how to use it
Read our blog post about the most recent changes rolled out for Macmillan Dictionary’s Thesaurus feature:
Let us know what you think of those changes in a comment! We’d love to hear your view.
What is the Macmillan Thesaurus?
The Macmillan Dictionary includes a free thesaurus.
Every word, phrase, phrasal verb, and individual meaning in the Macmillan Dictionary has a corresponding entry in the Thesaurus, introduced by the symbol .
To use the thesaurus, juck click on the ‘Explore Thesaurus’ button which appears underneath every word and meaning in the dictionary.
A thesaurus with a difference
The Macmillan Thesaurus was developed at the same time as the dictionary, so these two resources work together to provide exactly the help you need. This makes our Thesaurus unique in three ways:
(1) The synonyms it provides relate to the particular meaning you are looking for, not just to the word.
For example, the word bright has plenty of synonyms but the ones you need will depend on whether you’re interested in bright meaning ‘shiny’ or bright meaning ‘intelligent’. In the Macmillan Thesaurus, each meaning of bright has its own separate list of synonyms. Just click on the thesaurus link at the end of the particular meaning you’re looking at, and you’ll see the synonyms for that meaning.
(2) The Thesaurus doesn’t just give synonyms, but related words too. Most of the time, you’ll be looking for another way of expressing a particular idea, and the Thesaurus will give you a carefully-selected list of similar words and phrases. But some types of word don’t have synonyms. There aren’t really any synonyms for cottage, for example, but cottage belongs to a lexical set of words for buildings that people live in words like house, apartment, mansion, and condo. So when you’re looking at a word for a concrete object a plant, an animal, a machine, or a building, for example the thesaurus provides a list of related words.
Try looking up tennis or palm tree, for example, and you’ll see a list of all the words to do with tennis or the words for types of tree.
(3) Finally, the Thesaurus provides definitions for the words it lists. It’s hard to choose exactly the right word if all you see is a list, so every word or phrase in our Thesaurus comes with a full definition to help you make the right choice.
The meaning of thesaurus
The term thesaurus comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘treasure trove‘ or ‘storehouse‘. Macmillan Dictionary’s free online English thesaurus is exactly that! More than just a list of synonyms, it draws distinctions between similar words and helps you choose just the word you need. Explore and enjoy!