The subtitle of Descriptionary says it's "the book for when you know what it is, but not what it's called." Pretty useful, eh? But that description is also a bit limiting, as this handy reference guide can be just as easily used as a standard dictionary when you do know what the word is. Rather than the alphabetical arrangement found in dictionaries and thesauruses, the words here are grouped according to general categories, such as animal and insects, food and drink, the human body and mind, and occupations. Within these broad areas are subheadings--"environment" has been divided into 30 categories ranging from atmosphere to wind. The word listings in these short sections are alphabetical, and while each has a straightforward explanation, you won't find alternative spellings, a pronunciation guide, or any of those dictionary-standard accompaniments to the definition.
So why use this instead of a standard dictionary? Mainly, in order to take advantage of the unusual word arrangement, as it can operate most efficiently when you're writing a paper about a specific topic. Civics students looking up "malfeasance" will find on the same page a variety of words that may spark new ideas and instantly increase practical vocabulary, as any words that catch your eye will be closely related to the topic at hand. Also great for students is the "1,050 Words and Expressions You Should Know" chapter--from "ad hoc" to "zealous," it covers words used regularly in magazines, newspapers, and textbooks. Adults learning a new skill or deciphering current events will find that the sections function nicely as a glossary; the sections on sports, politics, gardening, and cooking are especially helpful in this manner. --Jill Lightner [via]