This useful, albeit odd, frustrating, and confusing reference work for the ostensible purposes of finding "associated" words can be more disappointing than useful. Example (1): I was looking for the word "Eucharist" -- as if one could forget such a word -- but it does not exist in this "dictionary," not under "Holy Communion" not under "Mass not under "Eucharist." Perhaps a hundred years ago, this word might not roll off the tip of a reverse dictionary, but for more than sixty years it has been the preferred appellation for all these "other" associated words. Example (2): I was looking for the name of a particular "pathology," but no entry for the word "pathology" exists. I pondered a while, and then my own reverse brain suggested "disease," a viola, "disease" has a host of pathologies. But even "disease" does not suggest . . . .
Two "features" of this reverse dictionary are baffling. The "associated" words are in bold, but the associated word's definition PRECEDES the word. Okay, this is a reversed world. Worse, perhaps, is how the "associations" are determined. Alphabetically would have been my obvious choice, since words are words, however associated. Not here, readers. The "associations" are by the editors' "degree of proximity." Proximity to what, you ask? Proximity to THEIR degree of association of words without any one else's reasons. Besides being entirely "arbitrary" (if not a bit egocentric), how can such "proximities" be determined, and assuming some standard could be found, how could anyone communicate those standards to those who are already in a search for what they cannot speak, mention, or find?
Alas, I almost threw this book in the fireplace. If any of us thought "plot" might be associated with "story," we'd be wrong. If we thought "plot" might be associated with "narrative," we'd again be wrong. So what do these editors associate "plot" with? I'm serious: "machination, Machiavellian, wheel-and-deal, synopsis." At least the "Ms" are together, even if nothing else is. The irony, here, is that the first-three "tangents" make more sense than "synopsis." How does synopsis relate to plot, and why aren't story and narrative a part of the plot? Because the "plot" is reversed against the user too stupid to find the association in the first place, if you don't object to reading explication before what's being explicated, that is.
Still, all these odd features notwithstanding, this book is sometimes useful, despite itself. But between you, me, and OUP, I suggest Random House's "Word Menu." Not quite the same, but certainly far more useful.