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Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Tools that Work–Visual Thesaurus

Author: ; Published: May 11, 2010; Category: Business Writing, Communications Tools; Tags: , , , ; No Comments

<Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus

I learned about the Visual Thesaurus years before I became a subscriber. I thought of it as this interesting toy that I would try occasionally using the “trial” feature on the site, which still exists today.

Have you tried it? Just go to the Visual Thesaurus and type in a word.  This little Tinkertoy-like structure will appear on the screen, showing you the word you selected and arrayed around it, all the related words. The “word map” (their term) doesn’t just pop up; that doesn’t really do it justice. It’s more like this quivering creature, gyrating into a standing position after doing it’s “look at me” dance.

But beyond the cool visual appeal, the Visual Thesaurus is useful. Click on any of the words in the little word constellation, and it becomes the center, with its related terms circling it. See the definition(s), save words you’re interested in, and more. Just be careful or you could end up traveling through this universe of words for hours.

I finally got tired of using the trial feature, broke down and paid up on an annual subscription a couple years ago. After decades of using the tried and true Roget’s Thesaurus in print form, I decided the online Visual Thesaurus was worth having.

Numb fingers from all the flipping from the index to the numbered items in the Roget’s? I did used to really give the book a workout when coming up with company or product names, headlines or taglines. So perhaps that’s part of it, but it’s also that the Visual Thesaurus offers a lot more than just the thesaurus.

You can sign up to have the Word of the Day sent to you. There are all sorts of interesting articles and blog posts in their online magazine. With their little tool you can add to your Microsoft Word program, all you have to do is right click on a word and boom, the thesaurus comes up.

I like getting the Word of the Day email each morning.  It’s always an interesting tidbit about the origin of a word. Entertaining and educational, what more could you want?  I feel like I’m getting smarter, learning, or being reminded of the roots of words, their meanings and why they’re spelled the way they are.  It’s a nice warm up before writing. 

No, I’m not being paid to plug, push, advertise, or promote the Visual Thesaurus.  It’s just something I really like and want to share.