Tools beyond the thesaurus to find descriptive words when brainstorming

When brainstorming, you often start with one word, and then come up with related concepts to that word. A thesaurus is often nice, because it gives you synonyms for the word.

If you use thesaurus.com, you’d get:

detonation, explosion, roar, rumble, barrage, blast, boom, booming, cannonade, clap, cracking, crash, crashing, discharge, drumfire, fulmination, outburst, peal, pealing, rumbling

A nice list. But if we want to go further beyond synonyms?

Descriptive word search

Today I learned that RhymeZone has a handy tool that gives you descriptive words based on one word. Using our thunder example, here are descriptive words related to thunder:

Things thunder often describes (“thunder __”)
clouds, rolls, showers, crashes, claps, sounds, breaks, people, echoes, strikes, gods, god, lives, storms, storm, boys, series, paint, weather, campaign, mountain, cults, gens, lord, bird, smiles, thighs, damage, bursts, songs, lakes, lightning, travels, ground, flashes

How thunder often is described (“__ thunder”)
distant, and, loud, heavy, low, blood, much, deep, more, deafening, muffled, dull, terrible, sudden, continuous, rumbling, violent, loudest, dreadful, harsh, terrific, live, subterranean, awful, tremendous, mighty, off, soft, incessant, faint, big, sweet, booming, roaring, constant, muted, hollow, steady, severe, occasional, sullen, ominous, hoarse, like, angry, mimic, silent, toned, sharp, fierce, pealing, dry, ceaseless, artificial, yellow, fearful, cannon, continual, perpetual, slow, wild, miniature, melodious, faraway, rhythmic, solemn, far, eternal, continued, musical, bold, remote, gentle, prolonged

This is so great, it uses words that often come after “thunder” and words the come before “thunder”.

RhymeZone’s descriptive word tool is now definitely a part of my brainstorming arsenal.

Before discovering RhymeZone’s descriptive word tool, I would use Google’s Ngram Viewer to find words that precede and go after my keyword. However, instead of 50 results, Ngram would give only 10 results. At least Ngram sorts it by frequency of usage over time.

google ngram viewer for words before thunder
google ngram viewer for words after thunder

A secondary tool

If you want to get a bit more esoteric set of words, try describingwords.io. The results are algorithm based, so you get some wacky results! Here are their results for thunder:

  • gruff sonorous
  • menacing, sullen
  • back artful
  • strange intelligible
  • continuous choppy
  • livid and liquid
  • subpectoral
  • normal distant
  • overwhelming incessant
  • slender tenuous
  • soft buddhist
  • authoritative sweet
  • unaccustomed distant
  • savage, uneven
  • distant, artificial
  • muffled, unceasing
  • soft, subliminal
  • haughty, harsh
  • fierce and incomparable
  • most considerate
  • profound underground
  • resonant swift
  • impotent papal
  • startling and annoying
  • occasionally distant

Wow! Maybe the results are wacky, because thunder is a sort of poetic word to begin with. But nevertheless, there might something in this algorithm tool that might spark some ideas. If the initial 25 results aren’t enough for you, they also give you an additional 975 results!

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