The Word thesaurus has changed over the years but the basics have remained the same.
Microsoft Word has had a thesaurus for years and for years it’s been the subject of complaint and jokes. The complaints come from censorship by Microsoft when some unfortunate link is made between words of phrases. The jokes come when words (usually unknown to the programs dictionary) are given alternative spellings or meanings.
Anyway, the Word thesaurus has changed over the years but the basics have been the same.
The simplest way to use the thesaurus is to highlight a word (or just put the insertion point inside it) and press Shift + F7. Assuming that the word is correct and is in the thesaurus you will see a list of similar or opposite words (synonyms and antonyms).
There’s alternative ways to access the thesaurus. You can right-click on a word then under Synonyms see a fly out list of alternative words for the primary definition of that word.
On the menu you can choose Tools | Language | Thesaurus.
Personally, I prefer Shift + F7 because it displays the full set of thesaurus options. Many words have alternative meanings or shadings that demand quite different synonyms. For example, the word Office has three meanings (in addition to the proper noun that Microsoft has made it) and you need to choose which one is appropriate to your use before selecting a synonym.
That’s why the Thesaurus dialog has a ‘Meanings’ list under the Looked Up word. Click on each of the meanings and you’ll see the synonyms change accordingly. Quite often the meaning lists overlap each other.
To find the opposite of a word look for the (antonym) label after the suggested alternative word.
In Office 2003 those commands apply except that the humble thesaurus has been bundled under the bigger title of ‘Research’. When you press Shift+F7 you get a task pane on the right side with option to look up the word in various places and even translate the document into other languages. You can control the sometime bewildering range of thesaurus options from the ‘Research options’ link at the bottom of the Research task pane.
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