2 Oct 2015

Back with dictionaries again! Enrich your vocabulary fast and easy

Several posts have already been published in this blog about dictionaries ("There is life outside word reference!"; "Using monolingual and collocations dictionaries"). Today we're going to focus on yet a different type of dictionaries: dictionaries of synonyms and antonyms. Have you ever used them??

To start with, a synonym is a word that has a similar or the same meaning as another one in the language, whereas an antonym is a word that has an opposite meaning. I include some examples below:

Examples of synonyms:


Some more advanced examples include:
Beautiful: Attractive, Pretty, Lovely, Stunning
Fair: Just, Objective, Impartial, Unbiased
Funny: Humorous, Comical, Hilarious, Hysterical
Happy: Content, Joyful, Mirthful, Upbeat
Hardworking: Diligent, Determined, Industrious, Enterprising
Honest: Honorable, Fair, Sincere, Trustworthy
Intelligent: Smart, Bright, Brilliant, Sharp
Introverted: Shy, Bashful, Quiet, Withdrawn
Kind:Thoughtful, Considerate, Amiable, Gracious
Outgoing: Friendly, Sociable, Warm, Extroverted 
Examples of antonyms

Working on our synonyms and antonyms will incredibly help us to enrich our vocabulary. (I also talked about this in an earlier post: "learn how to be more descriptive!"). But how can you do that? Well, there are many ways, from writing lists in your notebook, to designing flashcards or categorizing your vocabulary. But today we're only going to focus on one: dictionaries of synonyms and antonyms.

There are two main dictionaries of this sort online:

I personally prefer the second one, and here I'm going to show you an example of how it works. Extremely useful, and dead easy, you'll see!!

The homepage looks like this: (make sure it says "synonyms" on the left)

As an example I have introduced the word "sad". To start with, something very useful is that the words are coloured according to their relevance/frequency, as you can see below:

More than that, you can also activate the options "common" or "informal" on the right, so that the corresponding words are highlighted. This is extremely important, since when you learn a new word, you should also know if you should use it in formal or informal contexts. These differences of register are essential for advanced students.

If you scroll down a bit more, we find the antonyms. Again, they're highlighted according to their relevance and you can activate the options "common" and "informal".

Awesome, huh? :)

Well, now you just have to start using it!