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MLA Database: What It Is and How to Search It: MLA Thesaurus

The Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLA) is an index to journal articles, books, and more, published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, film, and linguistics.

MLA Thesaurus

Thesaurus-- The Thesaurus indicates the official vocabulary assigned to classify the items in the database. You can search for a term or phrase using the Thesaurus.The Thesaurus searches for terms ONLY in the Subject Terms field of the record.

Click on “Thesaurus” along the top of the screen. (See screen show below.)   Type the term or phrase you are looking for in the box under “Browsing: MLA International Bibliography – Thesaurus,” then click on Browse.  Your term or phrase will show up in the alphabetical list if it is used as an official subject in the database.

For example, if you look up "females" in the Thesaurus, you will see that it is NOT used as a subject term. 


If you look up "women," you will see that it IS used as a subject term. (See screen shot below.)

If the term or phrase is listed, check the box to the left of the term, then click on “Search” if you want to search just that term, or click on “Add” if you want to add that term to your search.

You may check more than one term before clicking on “Add.”


If more than one term is checked, the terms will automatically be ORed together in the search.  You can change the OR to AND or NOT by choosing a different option from the drop-down menu next to ADD.

Checking to see if a word is listed in the Thesaurus can often be a means of better focusing your search.  For example, if one looks up "Metaphor" in the Thesaurus, one sees that there are several more specific terms that can be used such as "metaphor analysis," "metaphor comprehension," "metaphor interpretation," "metaphor production," and more.



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