I use Emacs 23 on Debian sid. I can check the spelling of a word in Emacs with M-$. How can I obtain synonyms (using a thesaurus?) for a word in Emacs?

None of the following were useful: one, two, three. If I download synonyms.el from the second link, where should I place it? Do I need to download a thesaurus as well?

1 Answer 1


The second link in my question ("the link") is a solution. Installation instructions and usage details are included in the synonyms.el file, which is linked on that page.

  1. The synonyms.el file should be placed somewhere in your Emacs path.
  2. A thesaurus file must be downloaded (see the link) and extracted.
  3. Include (require 'synonyms) in ~/.emacs.
  4. Call "synonyms" with M-x synonyms and enter the path to the thesaurus file (this can be configured as explained in the link).
  5. Emacs then reads and builds the synonyms, and prompts for a cache file, which can also be configured as explained in the link.
  6. Enter the word for which synonyms are required; the default entry (activated by just pressing RET) is the word under the cursor.
  7. Emacs looks up the word (this takes a few seconds on my laptop) and presents the synonyms in a *Synonyms* buffer.

I do not know if it is possible to select a word from the buffer to replace the original word.

With respect to the author, whilst this does provided synonym look-up functionality in Emacs, I did not find it to be a convenient or quick solution. It may be easier to simply look up synonyms online when required.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .