Difference WikiLanguageWords

Difference Between Dictionary and Thesaurus

Main Difference

The main difference between Dictionary and Thesaurus is that a Dictionary contains the meaning, etymology, orthography, part of speech, and phonemes of words, whereas Thesaurus contains synonyms and antonyms of the words.

Dictionary vs. Thesaurus

A dictionary provides the word’s meaning, pronunciation, signification, and use in a particular language. A thesaurus provides the words that can be used in place of another word to avoid repetition. A dictionary is a book containing the meaning, etymology, orthography, part of speech, and phonemes of words. A thesaurus is a reference book that contains synonyms and antonyms of the words. In the dictionary, the words are listed alphabetically, e.g., starting from the alphabet A till Z. In a thesaurus, the words are arranged in alphabetical, conceptual, or thematic order.

ADVERTISEMENT

A dictionary defines a word. A thesaurus gives a list of the choice of words in each entry. Dictionaries are commonly used by the learners of a language to find the meanings, parts of speech, pronunciation, and the orthography of a word. The use of a thesaurus is shared among the writers and business people to find different words that convey the message in a better way. Different types of a dictionary are English dictionary, language dictionary, bilingual dictionary, medical dictionary, and geographical dictionary. A thesaurus has many types e.g., student thesauruses and esoteric thesauruses.

A dictionary tends to give additional information about words such as their etymologies, phonetics, spelling, pronunciations, gender, and parts of speech. A thesaurus does not deliver extra information about a word like its etymology; instead, it contains information about the various forms of words, e.g., adjectival forms, simple forms, and adverbial forms. The use of the dictionary is more common as compared to the use of the thesaurus.

ADVERTISEMENT

Comparison Chart

DictionaryThesaurus
A book containing the meaning, etymology, orthography, part of speech and phonemes of wordsA reference book that contains synonyms and antonyms of the words
Aim
It provides information about a language to a language learner.Help the writer to avoid the repetition of the same terms.
Use
To find an unfamiliar word.To find a synonym for a word.
Contains
Meaning, definition, pronunciation, orthography, etymology, part of speechSynonyms and antonyms
Word Order
AlphabeticalAlphabetical, conceptual, or thematic
Common
More used by peopleLess used by people
Types
English dictionary, language dictionary, bilingual dictionary, specific field dictionaryStudent thesauruses, and esoteric thesauruses

What is the Dictionary?

The word dictionary is a noun. A dictionary is a book or electronic resource that provides information about a word. The information for each word in a dictionary includes word’s definition (meanings or example), part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.), orthography (exact spelling, possible alternatives), phonetics (pronunciation, the utterance of the word), and etymology (word’s origin, root).

ADVERTISEMENT

The words in a dictionary are typically listed in alphabetical order. It makes the finding of the specific word easy. A dictionary is a tool providing with the etymological and grammatical knowledge of the words of a specific language. It has different types. Some dictionaries show the pronunciation by International Phonetic Alphabet or phonemes, while others use the alphabets to make the pronunciation sounds. There are English dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, e.g., English to French Dictionary, dictionaries for specialized areas, e.g., medicine and geography.

The dictionaries sometimes are categorized according to the level of their users. For example, a dictionary for kids omits the words that are used by adults. In the same way, high-level dictionaries are meant for scholars and adults containing all the words along with their detailed information. Some of the dictionaries are limited to word meanings, while others explain the word’s usages, parts of speech, etymology, and other aspects of a word. Furthermore, a dictionary can be a general dictionary and a specialized dictionary. The specialized dictionary includes words related to specific fields, i.e., medicine, business, IT, etc.

What is Thesaurus?

The word Thesaurus is a noun. A thesaurus is a reference book that contains words of similar meaning. It also contains antonyms of the words. It tends to provide the words that can be used in place of another word to avoid repetition. Some of the Thesaurus also has phrases, clauses, and sentences with the words as examples. It helps the reader with the usage of the word in a specific context. The first modern thesaurus in the English language is associated with Peter Mark Roget’s name. It was published in 1852.

Thesaurus is arranged alphabetically, conceptually, or thematically (words having similar meanings are listed together). A thesaurus gives a list for a choice of words in each entry. It acquaints with the similarities between words and helps in choosing the exact word that better fits within the context. It is commonly used by writers to avoid monotonous in a writing piece. People belonging to the professional fields, e.g., scholars, take the help of Thesaurus to deliver high-level information.

A thesaurus gives information about the related words with the same connotation. However, the synonyms in a thesaurus have the same connotation, whereas antonyms give the opposite meaning. A thesaurus has types, e.g., student thesauruses and esoteric thesauruses. A thesaurus also contains information about the various forms of words, e.g., adjectival forms, simple forms, and adverbial forms. Thesauri are the correct plural of Thesaurus, but thesauruses are most common as its plural form.

Key Differences

  1. One takes the help of a dictionary to find an unfamiliar word, whereas one takes the help of thesaurus to find a synonym for a word.
  2. A dictionary also can be found in more than one language giving the meaning of a word of one language with equivalents in another language; on the other hand, a thesaurus generally does not come with this feature.
  3. A dictionary tends to give additional information about words such as their etymologies, phonetics, spelling, pronunciations, gender, and parts of speech; contrarily, a thesaurus does not deliver extra information about a word.
  4. A dictionary is a book containing the meaning, etymology, orthography, part of speech and phonemes of words; on the flip side, a thesaurus is a reference book that contains synonyms and antonyms of the words.
  5. A dictionary provides the word’s meaning, pronunciation, signification, and use in a particular language; on the contrary, a thesaurus provides the words that can be used in place of another word to avoid repetition.
  6. The use of the dictionary is more common; on the contrary, the use of a thesaurus is less common.
  7. Dictionaries are commonly used by the learners of a language; inversely, the use of a thesaurus is shared among the writers and business people.
  8. In the dictionary, the words are listed alphabetically on the converse; the words are arranged in alphabetical, conceptual, or thematic order in a thesaurus.
  9. The types of a dictionary are English dictionary, language dictionary, bilingual dictionary, specific field dictionary, while a thesaurus comes in student thesauruses and esoteric thesauruses.
  10. A dictionary defines a word; on the other side, the thesaurus gives a list for the choice of words in each entry.

Conclusion

Dictionary and thesaurus are the reference books that give information about the words. Both these terms are different from each other based on the type of information they give.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson