Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
June 14th, 2015
Episode 226 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 14, 2015 is: thesaurus \thih-SOR-us\ noun 1 : treasury, storehouse 2 a : a book of words or of information about a particular field or set of concepts; especially : a book of words and their synonyms b : a list of subject headings or descriptors usually with a cross-reference system for use in the organization of a collection of documents for reference and retrieval Examples: Seeking a more appropriate word than "secretive" to describe the uncommunicative subject of her piece, Mabel turned to her thesaurus and found one: "reticent." "Ms. Riggs 1983 compilation, 'No Turn Unstoned,' is a thesaurus of the nastiest theater reviews. She went on to adapt it for the stage and performed it at last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe." Meghan Rice and Anne Mancuso, New York Times, January 1, 2015 Did you know? In the early 19th century, archaeologists borrowed the Latin word thesaurus to denote an ancient treasury, such as that of a temple. Soon after, the word was metaphorically applied to a book containing a "treasury" of words or information about a particular field. In 1852, the English scholar Peter Mark Roget published his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, in which he listed a treasury of related words organized into numerous categories. This work led to the common acceptance of the term thesaurus for "a book of words and their synonyms." Finally, during the 1950s, thesaurus began being used in the field of word processing to refer to a list of related terms used for indexing and retrieval.