My Most Frequently Used Reference Book

by Steve Laube

After pulling down this book from my shelf twice this past week I realized there is no other reference book I use more frequently.

The book?

The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale.SynonymFinder

I prefer it over Roget’s Thesaurus because it is laid out logically – in alphabetical order.

There are multiple occasions where I need an alternative word to the one I’m trying to use. So I look it up and there are dozens of synonyms listed for that word. And over one million of them in the whole book. (1,361 pages)

Hysteria. – 1. outburst, eruption, explosion, flare-up; fit, seizure, convulsion, spasm, paroxysm.
2. delirium, frenzy, madness, craze, furor, fury, Slang screaming-meemies.

Perfect for when a publisher moves the publication date of your book by three months and forgets to tell you. And you planned your entire travel and speaking schedule for Fall around the original release date. (This happened last week.)

Perfect for when the publisher sends you a horrible design for your book cover that has you erupting in an explosion of madness and screaming-meemies.

When brainstorming on new titles for a client’s book, out comes The Synonym Finder.

One suggestion, if you add this to your library? Buy the hardback. My copy has lasted over 20 years and should last another twenty barring some disaster.

Your turn:
What reference book do you use most frequently?

17 Responses to My Most Frequently Used Reference Book

  1. Avatar
    Anne Mateer April 28, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    I love that book, too! My copy is practically falling apart, which means I guess I should have invested in the hardcover version.

  2. Avatar
    Ane Mulligan April 28, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    My favorite is The Flip Dictionary. It goes a step further by giving you types after the main entry. For instance, after the listing for hysteria, they have hysterical and then hysterical outburst. After the word fear and its basic synonyms, you find “fear and apprehension”; “fear or concern”; “fear, paralyzing”; and it goes on for 10 more entries, plus it has a list of phobias, too.

    I wore out a paperback version after abotu 7 years, so I bought the hardback version. It’s the most used book in my personal library.

  3. Avatar
    Scoti Springfield Domeij April 28, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    My tattered hardback thesaurus sits on a shelf. I use I type into google the word I want to look up, for example: “define thesaurus” and up it pops. All it takes is a click here and there to find the best and most word. I also use it to check the definition to make sure I’m using the word correcprtly. If I’ve used the same word multiple times, I also use this online thesaurus to find other colorful words. infield

  4. Avatar
    Scoti Springfield Domeij April 28, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    OOPS! The screen froze while editing. Meant to say “All it takes is a click here and there to find the best word.”

  5. Avatar
    Scoti Springfield Domeij April 28, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    My most used references are and biblegateway.

  6. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins April 28, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    I use the Synonym Finder, Young’s Analytical Concordance, and my old dictionary from college a lot. I prefer not to go to the internet when I’m working on a manuscript because I’m likely to get distracted.

  7. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka April 28, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    I have been hearing a lot about the Synonym Finder. I think it’s time to check it out. Though my computer has a thesaurus, and I often go to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary online for thesaurus inspiration, I find them somewhat limiting.

    Definitely going to be checking this out. Maybe I’ll ask for it as a birthday present. 🙂 Love this, Steve!

  8. Avatar
    Jaime Wright April 28, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    I think you officially just became my hero! I’ve been looking for something like this — the Thesaurus just wasn’t kicking it for me! Ordered. Waiting on Amazon to ship now 🙂

  9. Avatar
    Gail Gaymer Martin April 28, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    This book was one of the best finds I’ve found to aid my fiction writing. I want to avoid redundancy and to use the perfect word. I can always find what I want in Synonymn Finder. I love how the words are alphabetized. I own numerou other books — Flip Dictoinary for one — but nothing words as easy and thoroughly as Synonymn Finder

  10. Avatar
    Ron Estrada April 28, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    My thesaurus, even though Stephen King says a thesaurus is creepy. The King of Horror doesn’t understand. I’m not looking for a new word, I’m looking the for the word that I’ve know for 40 years, but suddenly can’t seem to find where I left it. I’ll have to check out the Synomymn Finder now.

    • Avatar
      Jim Lupis April 28, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Ron, you have described my thesaurus experience perfectly.:)

    • Avatar
      Hannah April 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Exactly how I feel! Can tell you’re a writer, you sum it up perfectly 🙂

  11. Avatar
    Sara Baysinger April 28, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Screaming-meemies! I love it! I have this book sitting on my shelf and like to alternate between it and I use the internet when I’m too lazy to flip through The Synonym Finder, but the internet doesn’t have as wide a variety of words. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Avatar
    Sherry Carter April 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    I have two reference books out on my desk at all times: The Synonym Finder and Nave’s Topical Bible. I can’t imagine writing a Bible study without them.

  13. Avatar
    Lynn Hare April 28, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Thanks for the tip on The Synonym Finder. Sold! As a freelance nonfiction writer, I’m continually upgrading my narratives. I often use The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Publisi, which lists body language expressions of emotions (e.g., to depict anger, have the character glare, cut people off, slam doors, jerk their head).

  14. Avatar
    Gail Helgeson May 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Just received a Barnes and Noble gift card in the mail today. I stopped here to thank you for the tip on the Synonym Finder. Now, on my way to buy it at Barnes and Noble. Cheers!

  15. Avatar
    Linda Rodante June 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    This is going back a ways, but I just bought this book. I sooo miss the old Roget’s Thesaurus which use to be in alphabetical order.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get New Posts by Email

Get New Posts by Email

Each article is packed with helpful info and encouragement for writers. You can unsubscribe at any time with one click. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!