Monday, April 13, 2009

Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder: A Dictionary/Thesaurus of Adjectives by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph. D. © 2003 Writers Digest Books

Lexicographer Barbara Ann Kipfer has prolifically compiled reference texts, most of which can be found on my shelf within handy reach of my desktop computer. I fancied myself to be one of her biggest fans, but reviews I’ve read for Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder were all positive, and she is well spoken of. Obviously, many writers are taking advantage of her invaluable tools.

In my research, I found out that it was Paul Mark Roget, a physician as well as a lexicographer who compiled the original thesaurus for his own use. He went public with it nearly fifty years later. Can you imagine what a challenge writing would be if had he taken that gem with him to the grave?

What makes Kipfer’s text different from Roget’s original work or any of the other thesauri (yes, that is the plural for thesaurus) she’s compiled? This one is a Thesaurus of thousands of descriptive words and phrases listed under five-hundred and seventy-two categories. Each individual entry has a time saving definition so you can immediately determine its suitability without further research.

A simple thesaurus lists alternative words for adjectives such as happy. Referring to the“Happiness” category in the Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder puts the reader in touch with over a hundred words and phrase choices. The entries describe various concepts of happiness from playfulness to laughter.

Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder is fun to peruse, with categories from abandonment, with such entries as abrogated and unwonted to zoology. Kipfer usually adds helpful indexes and addendums. Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder includes a Quick Finder which is basically a thesaurus with some contrasting headings like Active/Passive and even one entry for Silly Sounding Words.

If finding fresh, evocative descriptive words is an exhausting task for you, this book may help add strength that will catch an agent’s or editor’s eye.


  1. Sounds interesting. I couldn't live without my SuperThesaurus.

  2. This sounds like a good book to put on my "to buy list". Thanks for telling about it.


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