Setting Thesaurus Entry: Lab

Generously compiled by Liana Brooks


microscope, scalpel, red stain, blue stain, gel, counter top, bunson burner, blue flame, beaker, vial, specimen rack, dissection table, skeleton, anatomical model, cabinets, computer, rolling screen, window, eye-wash station, drain, incubator, fridge, sneakers, lab coat, face masks, goggles, text book, reference book, light, pick, test tube, petri dish, culture, boiling liquid, specimen, animal tanks (fish or mice), paperwork, blood, rubber stoppers, dissection kit, posters, warning signs, chair, surgical gloves, soap, sink, notice board, rust, glass, metal, iodine, purple dye, freezer, dust, printer, scanner, wires, tubes, cables, soldering iron, lasers, face mask, hair ties, mugs, stethoscope, lamp, candle, test tube rack, pH test strips, samples, organic chemistry model sets, pull down screen, projector, chalkboard, whiteboard, swabs, plastic bags, rubber stoppers, first aid kit, speakers, intercom, sink, hazard signs on equipment, tweezers, bio hazard waste receptacle, syringes, heavy gloves, lab tecs, security badges, key cards, buckets, clear sealed specimen bags, glass walls


glass clinking, water draining, liquid boiling, hum of electronics, muted music from an IPOD, people talking, keyboard clicking, tools tapping counter top, fish tank bubbling, mice squeaking, computer whining, air filter humming or coughing or vibrating, music from radio or IPOD, whoosh of an air exchanger or air conditioner, the buzz/crackle of an intercom, chair wheels sliding across the floor, the release of a pressurized seal, the snap when you pull off a latex glove, coughing, muttering, swearing under one’s breath, flipping through paperwork, drawers opening/closing, the scritch of pen against paper


sulfur, iodine, burning, tang, bleach, orange, lemon (citrus cleansers remove some smells from your hands), latex, mildew, chicken soup, body odor, the smell after rain (caused by some bacteria blooms), salty, dead fish, burnt popcorn, alcohol/ethanol, disinfectant, formaldehyde, vinegar, acid tinge, the smell of things rotting because the freezer broke, mold, mildew, recycled air, fecal matter, body odors, bile


tang, acidic, salt, citrus, chlorine, tin, tears, coffee


hard surface, squishy dissection trays, rubbery latex, cold, sharp knives, bumpy handle grip, smooth counter, cold air, hot equipment, chemicals stinging skin, eyes burning, cold air from fridge, chair seat (hard or soft), sliding a wheeled chair, rough paper or smooth, goggles squeezing face, mask tickling nose, clicking mouse, keyboard, opening/closing cupboards, tapping an envelope to shake out a granular sample, squeezing tweezers, pressing the bulb of an eye dropper, flipping through paperwork, sorting through samples in plastic marked bags or containers, running an exacto knife along a seal to get to the contents, the weight of a specimen jar in the hand, waving off steam, wiping at spills, pulling off latex gloves, securing an apron, clipping on a name tag, pulling out a pen, wrinkling your nose at an acrid scent, washing hands, adjusting the dials on a microscope, slipping a slide into place, stacking trays, sealing contents in jars, writing on labels, sweat beading on the brow

Helpful hints:

–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Marcus hated working in the tiny, glassed in lab. Sure, he had a job while lots of other lab assistants had fallen under the knife, but cuts to the budget meant another year trying to keep the refrigeration units going with little more than duct tape and raw will, another year of bumping into counters and chairs and kicking wastebaskets. Even better, it meant three hundred and sixty five blessed days of his boss’ soup breath and playing hide and seek with the slide deck because the man couldn’t be bothered to put anything back where it belonged.

Example 2:

Ben let his gaze drift over to the other side of the table, past the steamy haze rising up from fluid warming on a Bunsen burner. Jenna’s attention was fixed on her task, the small crease between her eyebrows somehow making her appear even more beautiful than already was. The thought of talking to her filled with Ben’s mouth with excess saliva and he had to gulp it down before it choked him. He could just imagine attempting chit-chat with her–even if his nerves let him form a coherent sentence, he’d probably end up drench her immaculate white lab coat in spittle.

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Under the microscope, bacteria swarmed the healthy cell like a pretty girl at a drunken barn dance.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Every time Rena needed to retrieve a tissue sample from the refrigeration unit, the blast of cold make her shiver and remember her brief stint as an intern morgue technician.

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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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5 Responses to Setting Thesaurus Entry: Lab

  1. Pingback: Setting Thesaurus Entry: Secret Genetic Engineering Lab | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  2. Pingback: Setting Thesaurus Entry Collection | Writers Helping Writers

  3. Mary Witzl says:

    Kate’s beat me to the rats! I’ll never forget the smell of rat pee and rat poo mixing with formaldehyde — and my lab partner’s perfume.

  4. Bish Denham says:

    Wow, this one must have taken a while to put together. You continue to rock!

  5. Kate says:

    Great list…but no rats in the smell list? That’s all I remember about my year working in a school lab.

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