When I’m out and about writing on my trusty laptop (My NEW trusty laptop… so giddy,) I don’t always have an internet connection, and lugging around a ten pound, 1500 page desk reference isn’t really practical. So in the past, when I found myself relying too heavily on a few favorite words (Okay fine… Kids, when I said didn’t have any favorites, I lied. It’s who ever isn’t in the room at the time,) I would turn to TheSage, a free or paid electronic dictionary/thesaurus (I popped $10 for the paid version below.)
The problem is, TheSage focuses on a rigid linguistical model that limits its usage as a creative writing tool. The program sees words in black and white, where I need shades of grey. So, below are some additional programs I’ve recently come across:
I am NOT affiliated with any of the products or vendors discussed below. These are just my own useless opinions. And the reason I chose the comparison term ‘terrorist’ is because the word is emotionally charged and specific.
I already mentioned Artha (below) in a post a couple days ago, but I’ll mention is again just in case you missed it.
Artha’s results, while slightly better are still limited, but the neat thing is you can click through chains of associated words.
WordWeb is very similar to Artha. And though it made a few additional associations, I still found the free version too linguistically limited for my purposes, but there is a fairly long list of well known and comprehensive dictionaries you can purchase that might improve this.
At the Microsoft store I found this free app. Advanced English Dictionary
It delivered somewhat different results from the others; although still pretty limited, I rather liked its interface.
While all of the above are helpful tools, I’m not thrilled with any of them. They are all based on linguistic models which seem to lack the flexibility needed to handle the nuances of informal communication.
Since I was at the Microsoft Store, I looked around and downloaded some more free apps, as well as a couple trial programs (I think most of, if not all of these are available elsewhere if you’re paranoid about downloading from Big Brother) :
The coolest program I found so far is MyWords10,
This program is an online/offline hybrid. It’s connected to the Moby Thesaurus and news outlets. And although it comes with a pre-loaded selection of words, you can easily add your own as you use it. It finds all the normal stuff: defs, syns, antons, hypers, homyns, meryns; it also provides contextual and reverse dictionary results and lists from the user community so you can take advantage of other people’s research as well as a visual word map. (Please note, I have not tested any of these off line yet… I’ll keep you updated.)
WordBook is another free app. But it seems to suffer from extreme grammatical indifference.
The Free Dictionary is an add supported app linked to several online dictionaries, I don’t know how functional it is off-line yet.
For me, the free ad supported version of the Cambridge Dictionary is a big HELL NO. I can live with few ads, but check out this partial screenshot. That’s fucking ridiculous and that’t not showing all the ads.
First up, the Oxford Concise Thesaurus. I actually think it did pretty well overall in comparison to most of the others.
Linguists may argue those words aren’t formally related:
“Ultimately, the limitation that you are encountering is between informal associations and formal relationships. We are aware of this limitation as are others. Unscrupulous individuals have manufactured such “synonym” lists over the years and they lurk the internet. These lists make no sense, from a linguistic point of view.” From a Sequence Publishing email responding to my inquiry on how to get better search results from TheSage Pro version.
I thought ‘unscrupulous’ bullshit comment was such a nice touch that it shouldn’t go unanswered.
“…as I previously explained, the cloud function did not return useful results and there were no similar or also see results for this example. And I really don’t consider MacMillan , Oxford or Collins unscrupulous. While I appreciate your time, the limitations you noted indicate I need to look for a more consistent tool suitable to my purposes.”
See I can respond like a grown-up and tell someone to get fucked without resorting to profanity. It just isn’t as much fun.
IMHO, since normal people don’t formally communicate, those linguists can formally get stuffed.
I expected to get similar results from the Concise American Oxford thesaurus , so I was a little surprised when it returned no results.
But in the interest of seeing how nuanced its results would be with a word in its database, I entered:
If I was putting money down, I would definitely purchase the Concise Oxford Thesaurus over the American version… just saying.
There were several more programs in the Microsoft store I haven’t tried yet, so I’m sure I will be coming out with more reviews in my continuing quest for the perfect electronic thesaurus.