Wai Hon's Blog

Write with Emacs 2: Synonyms

2021-11-05 #emacs #writing

The limits of language are the limits of one’s world. ~Ludwig Wittgenstein

My limited vocabulary should be a limit of my writing.

Looking up Synonyms with Power Thesaurus

I find looking up synonyms is a way to extend one’s active vocabulary. For instance, I can replace beautiful (active vocabulary) with something more specific and accurate, like attractive, lovely, gorgeous, charming, splendid, appealing (passive vocabulary).

In Emacs, emacs-powerthesaures is a package to look up synonyms by fetching data from Power Thesaurus.

Here is a mini demo:


The package defines three interactive functions:

  1. powerthesaurus-lookup-word: look up synonyms of a provided word
  2. powerthesaurus-lookup-word-at-point: look up synonyms of the word at point
  3. powerthesaurus-lookup-word-dwim: combine the above two,
    • if the current point (cursor) has a word, then calls (2)
    • otherwise, calls (1)

Here is my configuration:

(use-package powerthesaurus
  ("M-`" . powerthesaurus-lookup-word-dwim))


Use words that you know. Otherwise, check the meaning and learn that new word first!