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Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard includes the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus second edition, which is an updated version of the Thesaurus previously found in Leopard. As before, you can access the Thesaurus by opening the Dictionary application from your Applications folder, and then selecting Thesaurus. Some of the new features of the Thesaurus include tips to help you understand the difference between easily confused words. For example, if I type 'affect,' not only do I get a list of synonyms for affect, but at the bottom I also get an in-depth explanation of the difference between affect and effect.
Similarly, if I type the word 'who,' I get a Usage note on when to use 'who' and when to use 'whom.' Or let's type the word 'stunning.' Again, I get several synonyms for the word, but we also see a Word Note here, which in this case warns us against the overuse of this word when describing something that's just very good. These Word Notes as you can see underneath can be conversational, opinionated, and idiomatic and were contributed by a variety of editors to provide usage guidelines and to offer some context on the word's history.
You will also find Word Spectrums. For example, if I type 'frank.' Word Spectrums are a collection of words that begin with the word in question and gradually progress the words to its polar opposite. In this case, we start with the word 'frank' and then we go through 'candid,' 'direct,' 'forthright,' 'blunt,' 'on the up and up.' When we reach at the bottom we go back up at the top: 'terse,' 'abrupt,' until we finally get to 'evasive,' which is pretty much the complete antonym of frank. So not only do you get a free Thesaurus in Snow Leopard, but you also get an incredibly useful and in-depth language guide.
And just a reminder in case you weren't aware of this feature in the previous version of OS X, under Dictionary's Preferences you can choose whether Contextual menus Open the Dictionary application itself or the Dictionary panel. Personally, I keep mine set to panel, which is great when I am reading a webpage and I come across a word I am not familiar with or I just want a definition. For example, I am here on the lynda.com page and I will just select the word 'digital.' Right-click on that and I can say 'Look Up in Dictionary,' and this is the panel that appears. I get a dictionary definition here.
I can also switch to Thesaurus, but there really is no antonym for digital in this case. But if you prefer you can have the actual Dictionary app show up by going back to Preferences and making sure that Opens Dictionary application is selected. And that's the new free Thesaurus built into Snow Leopard.
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