Synonyms are words with the same or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn (σύν) ("with") and onoma (ὄνομα) ("name"). An example of synonyms are the words begin and commence. Likewise, if we talk about a long time or an extended time, long and extended become synonyms. In the figurative sense, two words are often said to be synonymous if they have the same connotation:

"a widespread impression that... Hollywood was synonymous with immorality" (Doris Kearns Goodwin)

Synonyms can be any part of speech (such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs or prepositions), as long as both words are the same part of speech. Here are more examples of English synonyms:

  • verb
    • "buy" and "purchase"
  • adjective
    • "big" and "large"
  • adverb
    • "quickly" and "speedily"
  • preposition
    • "on" and "upon"

Note that synonyms are defined with respect to certain senses of words; for instance, pupil as the "aperture in the iris of the eye" is not synonymous with student. Likewise, he expired means the same as he died, yet my passport has expired cannot be replaced by my passport has died.

In English, many synonyms emerged in the Middle Ages, after the Norman conquest of England. While England's new ruling class spoke Norman French, the lower classes continued to speak Old English (Anglo-Saxon). Thus, today we have synonyms like the Norman-derived "people", "liberty" and "archer", and the Saxon-derived "folk", "freedom" and "bowman". For more examples, see the list of Germanic and Latinate equivalents in English.

Some lexicographers claim that no synonyms have exactly the same meaning (in all contexts or social levels of language) because etymology, orthography, phonic qualities, ambiguous meanings, usage, etc. make them unique. Different words that are similar in meaning usually differ for a reason: feline is more formal than cat; long and extended are only synonyms in one usage and not in others (for example, a long arm is not the same as an extended arm). Synonyms are also a source of euphemisms.

The purpose of a thesaurus is to offer the user a listing of similar or related words; these are often, but not always, synonyms.

Read more about Synonym:  Related Terms

Other articles related to "synonym":

Limacus - Species
... Species within this subgenus include Limax flavus - synonym Limacus flavus synonym Limax breckworthianus - the type species Limax ecarinatus - synonym Limacus maculatus ...
Cymatium (gastropod) - Species
... tigrinum (Broderip, 1833) Species brought into synonymy Cymatium aegrotum (Reeve, 1844) synonym of Ranularia gallinago (Reeve, 1844) Cymatium aquatile synonym of Monoplex aquatilis (Reeve, 1844) Cymatium ... Smith, 1899) synonym of Monoplex durbanensis (E.A ... Smith, 1899) Cymatium exaratum (Reeve, 1844) synonym of Monoplex exaratus (Reeve, 1844) Cymatium exaratum durbanense (E ...
... Cuthona yamasui Cuthona zelandica Species brought into synonymy Cuthona bractea Burn, 1962 synonym of Tularia bractea (Burn, 1962) Cuthona hiemalis Roginskaya, 1987 synonym of Cuthonella hiemalis (Rogin ... Verrill, 1879 synonym of Flabellina salmonacea (Couthouy, 1838) ...
Synonym - Related Terms
... Hypernyms and hyponyms are words that refer to, respectively, a general category and a specific instance of that category ... For example, vehicle is a hypernym of car, and car is a hyponym of vehicle ...
Solariellidae - Genera
... brought into synonymy Ethaliopsis Schepman, 1908 synonym of Bathymophila Dall, 1881 Machaeroplax Friele, 1877 synonym of Ilanga Hebert, 1987 Zeminolia Finlay, 1926 synonym of Solariella S ...

Famous quotes containing the word synonym:

    In the court of the movie Owner, none criticized, none doubted. And none dared speak of art. In the Owner’s mind art was a synonym for bankruptcy.... The movie Owners are the only troupe in the history of entertainment that has never been seduced by the adventure of the entertainment world.
    Ben Hecht (1893–1964)