Dictionary vs. Thesaurus

What is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus? Both a dictionary and a thesaurus are very…

What is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus?

Both a dictionary and a thesaurus are very useful in helping you learn a language, but they are arranged in a different manner and have a different purpose. They provide knowledge about the meanings of words but the way in which they do so is different.

A thesaurus is a book in which the words are listed in alphabetical order and they provide the synonyms and the antonyms for each word. The list of synonyms (words that mean the same) is given and this is followed by a list of antonyms (words that are opposite in meaning).

A dictionary also lists the words in alphabetical order but it provides more details about each word. It provides more detailed meanings, tells the part of speech that the word can take in a sentence and gives examples of sentences to illustrate the meanings. It also tells the derivatives of the words.

If you look up “boy” in the dictionary, you will learn the gender of the word and that it is a singular common noun. If you look up the same word in a thesaurus you will find that some of the synonyms are lad, male, man, and laddie. Opposites include girl, woman and lady.

A thesaurus is an indispensable tool for writers and students who want to find different ways of saying the same thing. It is especially useful if you find information that you would like to include in what you are writing but you don’t want to take the chance of being accused of plagiarism. Therefore you need to use different words to convey the same meaning.


  1. A dictionary is a book that has words from a language listed in alphabetical order. It tells the meanings of the word, gives examples in sentences and tells the part of speech and the gender of the word.
  2. A thesaurus is a book that lists words from a language in alphabetical order and gives the synonyms and antonyms of each one.
  3. You can buy a dictionary that translates words from one language to another such as English to French.


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