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The New Oxford Thesaurus of English Patrick Hanks

The New Oxford Thesaurus of English

Patrick Hanks

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 About the Book 

The trouble with most thesauruses is that a list of synonyms is all very well but if you arent familiar with the tricky nuances and connotations of, say, ribald, bawdy, indecent, risqué, rude, racy, broad, earthy, Rabelaisian, spicy suggestive,MoreThe trouble with most thesauruses is that a list of synonyms is all very well but if you arent familiar with the tricky nuances and connotations of, say, ribald, bawdy, indecent, risqué, rude, racy, broad, earthy, Rabelaisian, spicy suggestive, titillating, improper, indecorous, locker room, vulgar, coarse (The New Oxford Thesaurus offers a total of 36 formal and informal options at this point), how do you choose the right word for your context? OUPs new larger-than-most Thesaurus tries to get round the problem by providing occasional explanatory articles in panels. Some are devoted to explaining the difference in meaning between close synonyms. Others distinguish between readily confused words--although they are not synonyms--such as complacent and complaisant or venial and venal. Then there are lots of general information panels listing, for example, the regions of Italy, and the names of rhetorical devices (such as trope, hypallage, chiasmus and 32 others). The vegetable list runs from adzuki to zucchini and the authors range from Achebe to Zola. More obscurely, there is a list of boots and shoes from alpagatas to zoris (taking in flip-flops, jackboots and Oxfords along the way). Anyone who likes to play that game when you try to think of an item--say a bird, poet or country--for every letter of the alphabet could have a field day here.The New Oxford Thesaurus of English is an exceptionally comprehensive reference book, clearly laid out. It is almost an encyclopaedia, as well as a thesaurus which claims to contain over 600,000 alternative and opposite words (few users will bother to count). Like all good reference books its fun to browse, isnt afraid of the obscure and leads to further questions. What, for example, is an agnomen, which the Thesaurus lists as a sort of name? It was a fourth name, occasionally assumed by the Romans. So today it means, loosely, an extra name subsequently acquired--but you have to go to the full OED to find that out. --Susan Elkin