Apr 23, 2012


Do you have overused words? I do. Looked is one of mine, when I could use stared, glanced, glared, gaped, gazed (wow, lots of g words). Sometimes the quickest way to find a fresh replacement is to use a thesaurus. No need for big heavy books on your shelf, there are these great online ones. 

VISUWORDS - This is a more graphic way of viewing words, you're provided with the synonyms, opposites, verb groups etc in a brainstorming style map.
THESAURUS.COM - exactly what you'd expect from a thesaurus.

Remember a few rules for thesaurus surfing:
  • Only use the words that stay true to the voice of your narrator or character. Don't use big long fancy words for the voice of a young child.
  • Check your spelling - a lot of the online sites are US spelling, so double check you have a UK site if you need that (or your computer might pick it up).
  • Don't overuse the variety in words. Sometimes a character can just walk, in one stroll they shouldn't wander, trudge, storm, stomp, tread and race. The reader will get exhausted!


  1. Good advice! I like to use the Find feature in Word if I think I am using a word too much (which I am prone to do:). Thanks for the links!

  2. Wonderful tips. I keep my thesaurus beside me as I write. Sometimes the one on my word processor doesn't offer enough options. I can't wait to try out these links!

  3. I have so many overused words I keep a list next to my computer. I love using my thesaurus. Most of the time, I really just needed it to trigger my memory of that one perfect word for the scene.

  4. I love my thesaurus and dictionary. I use it a lot.

  5. Lovely tips for newbie writers like me:)

  6. Where would writers be without a dictionary.
    Thanks for the tips.

  7. good advice--but always remembering a certain character, may use the same words over and over

  8. Excellent post. In February I was at the San Francisco Writers' Conference, and during a presentation by Connie Hale (whose book, Sin & Syntax, is a fixture by my laptop), she emphasized how important a good thesaurus is for writers. She did recommend having a good physical one, but she also suggested using reputable online ones, and she especially advised using the visual ones.

    Thanks for sharing!