Thesaurus Rex by Dictionary.com

App review by
Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Media
Thesaurus Rex by Dictionary.com App Poster Image
Expand and explore vocab with pretty good word-finder.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn more about words and spice up their writing as they search for synonyms to replace tired adjectives and non-descriptive nouns. The app discourages kids from simply picking the first synonyms they see by encouraging them to narrow their results and pay attention to the relevance of the words. It also helps them make those words a regular part of their writing by saving popular searches and marking their favorite new words. This digital tool definitely trumps a traditional thesaurus, but some of the best features require in-app purchases.

Ease of Play

A video tutorial shows kids how to search for words and access many of the other unique features.

Violence

Kids can look up violent words to find synonyms.

Sex

Kids can look up sexual words and other words related to inappropriate content to find synonyms.

Language

Curious kids may be motivated to type in curse words and other inappropriate language to find synonyms. These words are labeled with exclamation points in search results, but can still be viewed.

Consumerism

The app does promote Dictionary.com and other word apps offered through the publisher.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Curious kids may look up synonyms for words related to drinking, drugs, and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thesaurus Rex is an app that provides kids with a way to find the most relevant synonyms and rhymes to help improve their writing. It has a pretty academic vibe, lacking flashy graphics and sound effects, but the app's simple design gives kids what they're looking for quickly and painlessly. Kids hoping to jazz up their writing will make repeat visits as they try to replace tired words with more engaging synonyms, whereas others may need more coaxing to see the app's benefits.

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What's it about?

Just as with a regular thesaurus, kids look up a particular word with THESAURUS REX and receive a list of synonyms. Unlike with a regular thesaurus, however, the synonyms come organized by relevance. If seeing words sorted by relevance isn't enough, kids also can narrow their search results by word length and complexity. As kids skim the lists of words, they can see a short definition for each and hear an audio pronunciation. In-app purchases unlock additional features, allowing kids to use the app to find rhyming words and sort words by syllable count or see examples of words used in sentences. When they find words they like, they can save them for quick reference later.

Is it any good?

No matter what kids are writing, Thesaurus Rex can help kids improve their vocabulary. The app encourages kids to think beyond simply adding a few big words to their writing and encourages them to choose words that fit the overall tone and meaning of a story, essay, or sentence. The short definitions that accompany the words help kids quickly determine whether the synonyms will fit, as do the examples available through the Examples & Tips upgrade. It also one-ups the old-school thesaurus by providing modern expressions and slang words. It's not all that exciting design-wise, which may help kids focus on the words themselves, but some kids may want a bit more oomph. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about words. Why say "tabby" when "cat" will do? When is it important to find the perfect word? 

  • Have kids focus on specific word choices when reading a favorite book aloud. 

App details

For kids who love words

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