Esoteric - Personal Thesaurus

App review by
Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Media
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Tons of words, not enough features in bare-bones vocab tool.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can find synonyms to learn different ways to express themselves or new meanings of words. They'll also increase their vocabulary.

Ease of Play

There are only a few features, but it's not especially intuitive how to use them effectively. There isn't any way to add multiple words at a time or to export your vocabulary list. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Esoteric - Personal Thesaurus is a reference app for searching and saving definitions of words from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus. With an internet connection, you can access definitions, synonyms, and examples of how words are used in context. You can save words to a vocabulary list, and you can compare new searches with words from your saved list. The app is free to use and doesn't require providing any personal information. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

ESOTERIC - PERSONAL THESAURUS has two parts: one for searching for words and another for saving words for further review. To search, type in a word and the app provides its definition, synonyms, and example sentences that use the word in context. You can click on a plus sign on any word or synonym to add it to the saved words section. There's also a "vocabulary" tab that can appear when you search for new words; this lets you compare newly searched words with any synonyms that you might have already saved.

Is it any good?

Though the features are pretty limited, this is a neat tool for accessing and exploring new words and their definitions. The way Esoteric - Personal Thesaurus organizes information on the screen is especially good. The app presents each word with its definitions, synonyms, and several examples of how to use the word correctly in a sentence. This is a thoughtful way of presenting a ton of information, and it may make encountering new words a little more approachable and structured. 

Beyond that, this app isn't likely to become a go-to study tool. Adding words one by one is a little time-consuming, and there's no way to organize your saved words beyond alphabetical order. And, since you can only use the app with an internet connection, it may not be a superior alternative to finding definitions from Google or from Merriam-Webster itself. Also, this app was developed by a third party, not by Merriam-Webster itself, and it's not exactly clear if this is an acceptable use of Merriam-Webster's content. Overall, this app is worth a look as a quick way to collect interesting words, but look elsewhere for a tool to help build and hone vocabulary.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the benefits of using a dictionary or thesaurus when encountering new words in Esoteric - Personal Thesaurus. How is it helpful? Does it work better to stop in the middle of reading or wait until the end of a section to look up a word?

  • Discuss the possible meanings, origins, and connotations of words to get kids thinking about how language changes and has shades of meaning.

  • Encourage kids to "look it up" when they need spelling or definition help. And then encourage them to explore and discover more about that word or different words like it.

  • Play dictionary games with your family. Choose a difficult word and send one person out of the room. Have other players make up definitions and write them down, along with the correct definition. Have the player come back and guess the correct definition.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love building vocab

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