It’s Thesaurus Day! Celebrate With These Activities And Resources

January 18 is a great day to be a thesaurus—and! That’s because it’s National Thesaurus Day! On this day, people around the country celebrate thesauruses for never leaving them at a loss for words. They also pay tribute to the creator of the first modern thesaurus. Want in on the fun? Thesaurus Day is a great day to learn about the history of the thesaurus, the right way to use one, and the huge difference a great resource like can make in your writing, speaking, and schoolwork. Come along for the ride as we explore the origins of National Thesaurus Day and everything that makes thesauruses worth celebrating.

What is a thesaurus, anyway?

The word thesaurus was first recorded in English as early as 1730, and it comes from the Greek thēsaurós, meaning “storehouse,” “treasure,” or “treasury.” So, we can think of a thesaurus as a “storehouse” or “treasure-trove” of knowledge (in the form of words). Today, thesaurus almost always refers to a book, website, or program that is “a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms.” British doctor Peter Mark Roget is credited as being the writer of the first thesaurus (Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases), thus popularizing the modern meaning of the word. Not only is National Thesaurus Day a holiday designated for celebrating the usefulness of the modern thesaurus, but it also takes place on Roget’s birthday.

How a thesaurus can help improve your writing and communication

One of the most direct benefits of using a thesaurus is that it helps you avoid repetition. No reader wants to slog through a book or article in which the writer keeps using the exact same descriptive words over and over again. Checking out synonyms or antonyms on can help you avoid this pitfall and keep your readers engaged. But that’s not the only thing a thesaurus is good for. You can also use a thesaurus to:

  • Discover brand-new words.
  • Learn more about the words in your favorite books, music, and movies.
  • Find the most specific language to describe complex concepts.
  • Explore the differences and similarities between words with common meanings.
  • Learn the meanings of new words by seeing what other words they’re related to.
  • Compare the shades of meaning in words like run (which can have hundreds of meanings)!

Thesaurus activities

Thesauruses aren’t all about the work and no play. National Thesaurus Day is an excellent day for using to play fun word games, teach kids of all ages how to use a thesaurus, and add a few new words to your vocabulary.

Rewrite a famous story, poem, or song

Are you a fan of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Efficiently”? What about Celine Dion’s “My Cardiac Organ Will Persevere”? If you’re thinking those song titles don’t sound quite like the ones you remember, that’s because they’ve taken a trip through Try taking a favorite song, poem, or even short story and using the thesaurus to change the words. Then, share your hilarious results. This could be a good activity for team building at work or an excellent way to get middle and high school students excited about synonyms.

Need some inspiration? Check out 9 types of poems to get your gears working.

Play a mystery word guessing game

This is a fun one for family game night or in a classroom setting. Take turns drawing a card and giving the other players three synonyms of the word on your card to help them guess what it is. For example, if your word is happy, you could say pleasant, upbeat, and elated. The first person to guess the original word gets to keep the card. At the end, the person with the most cards wins.

Make “synonym rolls”

Use the thesaurus to help early readers get acquainted with new vocabulary words. Draw or print out some blank cinnamon roll illustrations to have kids write on. “Synonym rolls” are a go-to for many teachers when helping students learn about synonyms, so you can easily find templates online. Here’s what to do:

  • Have kids think of a common adjective, like loud, sad, funny, or friendly.
  • Use to look up synonyms for the word.
  • Have kids list synonyms for their word on the cinnamon roll, following the swirl pattern.
  • Repeat until they’ve completed 4-6 “synonym rolls.”
  • Glue the rolls to a “pan” made of a large piece of gray or black construction paper.

Give your adjectives a makeover

Word lovers, this one’s for you. Think about the words you typically use to describe yourself. Make a list of 10 or so of them, then use to look up synonyms for each one. Challenge yourself to learn completely new words to talk about what makes you, you. Be sure to look them up on if you aren’t sure how to use one! This is a great way to not only learn new words, but could also come in handy when you’re working on your next cover letter, dating profile, or even just getting to know a new friend.

How can transform writing and communication

We don’t mean to brag, boast, or gloat, but is the leading online thesaurus and a go-to website for writers, students, professionals, and anyone else looking to improve their writing and communications.


You can find over 3 million synonyms and antonyms on, as well as grammar tips, writing prompts, and even fun facts about the English language. Here are some of the other helpful tools you can find on

Synonym of the Day

Learning new words is as easy as checking your email when you sign up for Synonym of the Day. Each day, our language experts send a handpicked word and synonym combination, along with a detailed definition and explanation of how to use the synonym properly. In a year, that’s 365 new synonyms learned.

Compare synonyms side-by-side

Learning new words and exploring shades of meaning is easier with the “Compare Synonyms” feature of To view up to three words at the same time, click on “Compare Synonyms” on a entry page. You’ll be able to see not only synonyms for each word, but also antonyms and definitions. We like to think this is a convenient, practical, and utile feature!

Answers to your frequently asked language questions

Have you ever wondered if there are synonyms for you or other pronouns? What about the difference between kind and nice, or the shades of meaning offered by each of the dozens of synonyms for the word love? Many of’s entries include answers to your frequently asked questions, including answers to interesting questions you never even thought to ask, all to help you become an even better writer and speaker.

Grammar Coach™ doesn’t just help with writing; you can actually use it to write! Grammar Coach™ is a smart tool that can help proofread your work and offer suggestions in real time. From checking spelling to ensuring uniform tone and excellent word choice, this writing tool makes it easy to take your work to the next level.

Free resources for grammar, writing, and more doesn’t stop at words. We also offer answers to all of your questions about grammar and share interesting facts about the English language that you maybe never knew before. Wondering how to replace the most common words in your writing or how to create more voice in fiction writing? We’ve got answers to those questions as well. There are dozens of free resources on the site, and we’re always working to add more each day.

If you really love grammar (don't we all!), then learn more about why it matters and some tips!

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