Pocket Oxford Thesaurus

edited by Sara Hawker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd rev. ed. 2008): 894pp, £6.99 (hbk), ISBN 978 0 19 953482 1.

Reviewed by Michèle Clarke

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OUP do a series of different thesauri to suit different pockets. This one is said to be 'pocket-sized' but would in no way fit one of mine! However, it would fit a briefcase or backpack. This second edition has, according to the blurb, been 'revised, updated, and redesigned to make it clearer and easier to use than before'.


The central section comprises a useful word finder – useful, that is, for those of us who have got to the age where we know a word, can't bring it to mind, but it does begin with B. This section contains subsections (all of which are further subsectioned) of animals, clothing and fabrics, food and drink, music, plants (common names), science, and transport. I'm not sure why these particular topics are included to the exclusion of others.

In addition, if, for example, one looks up 'overcoat' in the main thesaurus, it won't be found, but it will be discovered in the clothing and fabrics subsection in the middle. However, you won't necessarily know what its synonyms are.

Roget v A—Z

The thesaurus itself is arranged using the newer A—Z method, rather than the Roget preference of classification, and it does include opposites. I think I prefer these alphabetical versions as using them involves only one look-up, rather than two.

I have a small Oxford College Thesaurus with which to compare the pocket version. The OCT has more than 300,000 alternative words but no opposites, compared with POT's 220,000 antonyms and synonyms. I think I prefer the OCT version myself; however, a search online reveals that it is out of print.

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