Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus

Dictionary vs Thesaurus
 

Although both, dictionary and thesaurus, are used to learn the meanings of the words in a language, there is difference between dictionary and thesaurus in the manner they impart the knowledge of the meanings of the words. Linguistically speaking they, dictionary and thesaurus, are both nouns. It is interesting note that the plural of thesaurus is thesauri; but it is also written as thesauruses. Dictionaries are used more often by learners of a language to find the meanings, pronunciation, and the orthography of a word. Thesaurus is used more often by the writers to find the synonyms and antonyms in order to find a better word or to avoid using the same word repeatedly. In this article, we will learn the definitions of dictionary and thesaurus, what they contain, and the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus.

What is a Thesaurus?

A thesaurus is more of an etymological dictionary to know the meanings of words. In the words of the Oxford dictionary, a thesaurus is “a book that lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts.” A thesaurus gives ample information about the other words that have the same connotation as the word you are referring to. In other words, it can be said that a thesaurus gives synonyms and antonyms, as well. Synonyms are words having the same connotation whereas antonyms are words that give the opposite meaning to the word you are concerned about.

Most people in general and writers in particular make use of a thesaurus to find out synonyms and antonyms. A thesaurus normally does not throw much light on the origin of words. In the same way, it does not normally have extra information about the etymology of the words. A thesaurus has much information about the other forms of words such as nominal forms, adjectival forms and adverbial forms.

What is a Dictionary?

As the Oxford English dictionary says a dictionary is “a book or electronic resource that lists the words of a language (typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning, or gives the equivalent words in a different language, often also providing information about pronunciation, origin, and usage.” In other words, a dictionary is an etymological and a grammatical tool of imparting knowledge of the words of a language.

A dictionary contains extra information regarding gender and parts of speech. In addition to getting the knowledge of a particular word of a language you could be supplied with some extra information too such as the gender of the word, the kind of the parts of speech to which the word belongs and etymological derivation of the word. In other words, it can be said that a word for example ‘boy’ will have information regarding its gender and about the kind of parts of speech to which the word ‘boy’ belongs, namely, noun. It is a common noun for that matter. A dictionary for that matter throws some light on the origin of words too. 

There are also dictionaries that give equivalent or similar words in another language such as English to French dictionary or English to German dictionary.

Summary:

Thesaurus vs Dictionary

Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus

• A dictionary is a book that has a collection of words from a specific language, mostly in alphabetical order with the definition and the usage of those words. A thesaurus is a reference source that contains a classified list of synonyms with the related antonyms. 

• A dictionary also gives additional information about a specific word such as etymologies, phonetics,pronunciations, gender and parts of speech. A thesaurus does not normally have extra information about the etymology of the words, but it has information about the other forms of words such as nominal forms, adjectival forms and adverbial forms.

• Dictionaries are used more often to find the meanings, pronunciation, and the orthography of a word. Thesaurus is used more often by the writers to find the synonyms and antonyms in order to find a better word or to avoid using the same word repeatedly. 

• A dictionary also can be found in more than one specific language, such as English to French Dictionary where it contains a collection of words in one language with their equivalents in another. This is normally not the case with a thesaurus.

 

Further Reading:

  1. Difference Between Encyclopedia and Dictionary
  2. Difference Between Dictionary and Glossary