When you’re looking for that perfect word to convey your thought, or don’t want to repeat the same word over and over again, where do you go? The thesaurus, of course! You’ve got Peter Mark Roget to thank for that wonderful book, and we celebrate his creation on National Thesaurus Day on January 18! Roget started the book in 1848 and finished in 1852 with 15,000 words. The book’s full original title was “Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition.” Thanks to the thesaurus, we can do more than just tell friends we are happy but merry, delighted, and overjoyed! We can do more than have a conversation, but a discussion, a talk, or an exchange! Writers and non-writers alike can be thankful for all the word options available in a thesaurus, and celebrate the work of Peter Mark Roget on National Thesaurus Day!
National Thesaurus Day timeline
Sanskritis had a thesaurus in verse form, titled ‘Amarakosha.’
Peter Mark Roget begins writing the unofficial ‘Thesaurus.’
Roget completes the first ‘Thesaurus.’
The Historical Thesaurus of English includes the date next to each word of when it got its meaning.
National Thesaurus Day Activities
Play a game of "synonym password"
Pair up with a friend to see if you can stump each other on this game show variation. Make a stack of cards with words on them, and on each turn, give your partner up to three synonyms for the word on the card. Try to get them to figure out the original word. For instance, for a card with “party” on it, you could say “celebration,” “shindig,” or “festivity.”
Rewrite a famous poem or story
Have a little fun switching out the words of famous works and see if you can make them better! Take Edgar Allen Poe’s "The Raven," for instance. “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,” could turn into “Once upon a boring night, while I thought, frail and fatigued.”
Flip through a thesaurus, for old time's sake
These days, we mostly use the an online thesaurus, but paging through a book can lead you to many new words! Spend some time looking up favorites, you know, your darlings, number ones, idols, beloveds, dears, and faves.
Why We Love National Thesaurus Day
It helps us expand our vocabulary
A bigger vocabulary is better (or exceptional, superior, and of higher quality)! It helps us communicate with different groups of people, which in turn bolsters self-confidence. It even aids in important events, like preparing for a job interview or writing a speech for a class. It helps you speak more effectively and write with greater breadth and clarity.
Bigger vocabularies help kids learn
More word choices are just good for adults, but kids, too! If a child has enough words in his or her stash, they can fully describe what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and what they want. And, if they know more words, they are better at reading comprehension. This will lead to better grades and an easier time in school!
It helps us tell a better story
What would the Three Little Pigs have been without a thesaurus? The nursery rhyme favorite turns to synonyms to create a rhythm and urgency. Instead of just simply saying he would take down the house with a big gust of air, he added some excitement: “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down!” Different words make stories more stimulating and fun.
National Thesaurus Day dates