Happy (Pleasant) Thesaurus (Lexicon) Day!

Happy Birthday to Peter Roget. The creator of the Thesaurus was born on this day in 1779. This invaluable book has been the friend of many a student and writer. I know I use it everyday, both in book form and online. Need a different word for rain? Flip open your thesaurus and find drizzle, downpour, flurry and many others. 

A thesaurus helps one to keep their writings and speeches interesting and avoid repetitiousness in our wording. It also helps us find synonyms (words with similar meanings) as well as antonyms (words with the opposite meaning).

Peter Mark Roget was a English physician and philosopher. During his life he was a doctor in Manchester, a professor of physiology at the Royal Institution, and the secretary of the Royal Society.When he retired in 1848, he devoted himself to his dictionary of synonyms, based on the notes he’d been compiling during his life. In 1852, he published “Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases”, now commonly called Roget’s Thesaurus, which has been in print ever since.

Roget did more than just publish his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. He also invented a slide rule he called a “log-log,” used for calculating number roots and squares. He is credited in the history of cinema, thanks to a paper he presented in 1824 titled “Explanation of an Optical Deception in the Appearance of the Spokes of a Wheel Seen Through Vertical Apertures.” In this paper  he reported his observations of an optical illusion he had witnessed as he saw moving carriage wheels through vertical blinds. Although, he didn’t pursue it any further, others have credited him with first noting the phenomenon called “persistence of vision” — in which still photographs seen in rapid succession give the illusion of movement — which in turn led to the cinema.