Where can I find a good online database that gives me similar meanings instead of just synonyms?
I'm constantly looking for more descriptive words to use in my writing but very often I cannot think of the precise word I'm looking for but I can think of a similar word with a different definition. The frustration begins when I go to look that word up at an online thesaurus I'm and consistently presented with more words that have a similar meaning to the one I looked up - which are as useless to me as the first term. Are there any synonym databases online that will give me terms that expand the meaning sideways so I can find the right word?
For example I'm trying to write about how the suspension of Habeas Corpus has rendered the Bill of Rights "meaningless" but meaningless is not the term I want to use I want a word that's not coming to me. I check an online thesaurus and it dutifully gives me words that can replace meaningless
accurately like "senseless" and "pointless". Still not helping. So now I have to think of another word, I check "extinct" and I get lifeless, defunct, departed. Those don't work either. Toothless? Naaah, and there are no synonyms for that anywhere. Neutered gives me castrated and sterile - still no word that conveys exactly what I want to express.
See what I'm getting at? What I need is a database that will do this work for me by suggesting similar meanings in either direction along the line. Is there a website that does that or something close to it?
and don't think I don't get the irony of people reading this question and wondering "what is this guy talking about?"