Thesaurus day, observed on Jan. 18, commemorates the birthday of Peter Roget, who first published his celebrated collection of synonyms in 1852. In observance of Thesaurus Day, here is a list of unique and unusual thesauri.
"The Thinker's Thesaurus: Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words"
By Peter E. Meltzer Norton, 672 pages, $19.95
Aimed to challenge the top of readers' intelligence, Meltzer makes a clever case for stepping outside the usual din of even the strongest of our modern vocabularies.
WineSpeak: A Vinous Thesaurus of (gasp!) 36,975 Bizarre, Erotic, Funny, Outrageous, Poetic, Silly and Ugly Wine Tasting Descriptors"
By Bernard Klem Wine Appreciation Guild, 346 pages, $29.95
The ever-growing, seemingly buzzword-peppered language used to describe wine can seem to be a bit much from outside looking in. Klem demystifies "wine speak" while introducing some bizarre, less-frequented phrases in the wine taster's vocabulary.
"The American Heritage Children's Thesaurus"
By Paul Hellweg
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pages, $18.95
Hellweg's thesaurus is everything one expects in a thesaurus, only with wonderfully easy-to-parse organization bearing an educational slant and cheery color illustration.
"A Shakespeare Thesaurus"
By Marvin Spevack
Lubrecht andCramer, 541 pages, $49
Organized by a system of groups and subgroups, Spevack's classification of Elizabethan linguistics also offers social, spiritual and cultural insight into Shakespeare's world and that of his characters.
"The Flavor Thesaurus: A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook"
By Niki Segnit Bloomsbury, 700 pages, $27
With utmost respect for classic pairings, Segnit boldly considers the chemistry and harmony of flavor and, ventures into unusual combinations for a perfect reference for the aspiring foodie.
"The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate"
By Eugene Ehrlich Collins Reference, 224 pages, $17
With focus mostly on words and phrases most would declare impractical or long-unfashionable, this quirky collection is a delightful amusement for book lovers.
"A Funky Thesaurus for the Rock Drummer: Features Afro-Cuban Rhythms & Odd-Meter Rock Beats"
By Charles Dowd
Alfred, 49 pages, $10.95
This advanced sequel to "A Funky Primer" brings drumming to the next level by exploring drumming styles found in Latin, funk, jazz and rock music.
"More Words that Sell: A Thesaurus to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas"
By Richard Bayan
, 160 pages, $16.95
In his follow up to "Words That Sell: More than 6,000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas," Bayan lists more fresh, creative alternatives to the commonly over-used words and phrases in business and marketing, while taking consumer behavior and various marketing strategies into consideration.
"The Bald-Headed Hermit and The Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus"
By A.D. Peterkin
Arsenal Pulp Press, 154 pages, $14.95
Intended as a desk reference for erotica writers, the result is a highly entertaining, and at times ridiculous, collection of euphemisms, certainly is not for the faint of heart.
From the same author and publisher,
"Outbursts!: A Gay and Lesbian Erotic Thesaurus"
(2003) is filled with community-specific euphemisms, collected from GLBT communities in English-speaking countries around the world.
"Astonishing Scotland!: A Cheeky Thesaurus of Scottishness" (2003)
By Jim Hewitson Interlink, 170 pages, $13.95
A light, fun look at the cultural, social and anecdotal mythology of the Scots.
Lastly, a fascinating examination of the life of Roget:
"The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of 'Roget's Thesaurus'"
(Putnam, 2008) by Joshua Kendall and Stephen Hoye. An unflinching exploration of the man behind the thesaurus, his family and the fears, hopes and ideas that compelled him to classify words and phrases. In the rare book
"Networks and Knowledge in 'Roget's Thesaurus'"
by Werner Hullen (2009), the author looks at Roget's creation and explores how it relates to and influences language, culture and history. It's hard-to-find status, though, makes its price nearly as mysterious as Roget himself.