a word or expression accepted as another name for something, as Arcadia for pastoral simplicity or Wall Street for U.S. financial markets;metonym.
Biology. one of two or more scientific names applied to a single taxon.
Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
Noun synonyms sometimes mean exactly the same thing. A Dalmatian is a coach dog —same dog. A bureau is a chest of drawers. And if you ask for a soda on the east coast of the United States, you’ll get the same drink that asking for a pop will get you farther west. The object referred to remains constant. But forest and wood, though often interchangeable, have different shades of meaning: a forest tends to be larger and denser than a wood. And when we move from nouns to other parts of speech, we almost always find subtle but important differences among synonyms: although the meanings overlap, they differ in emphasis and connotation. A sunset might be described equally well as beautiful or resplendent, but a beautiful baby would not usually be described as resplendent, which implies an especially dazzling appearance. The verbs make and construct mean roughly the same thing, but one is more likely to make a cake but construct a building, which is a more complex undertaking.
Lists of synonyms are useful when we are struggling to write and looking for just the right word, but each word must be considered in light of its specific definition. Notes at the bottom of a dictionary entry—especially usage notes and synonym studies—are often where we’ll find the detailed information that allows us to improve (or refine or polish ) our writing.
- syn·o·nym·ic [sin-uh-nim-ik], /ˌsɪn əˈnɪm ɪk/, syn·o·nym·i·cal, adjective
- syn·o·nym·i·ty [sin-uh-nim-i-tee], /ˌsɪn əˈnɪm ɪ ti/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use synonym in a sentence
Several companies sell the drug in the US, for prices that range from $10 to $50 apiece, but Plan B has the largest market share and is a de-facto synonym for the morning-after pill.A bunch of men are about to make a fortune on Plan B | Annalisa Merelli | June 30, 2022 | Quartz
Hashish oil is basically a synonym for cannabis oil, which comes from marijuana.
As a synonym for a break-up note sent by a woman to a man in uniform, the Dear John letter made its debut in a major national newspaper in October 1943.How World War II's ‘Dear John’ Letters Changed American Society | Susan L. Carruthers | February 14, 2022 | Time
I think that the word “country” is a synonym for so many other words.The Outdoor Inspirations of Thomas Rhett’s New Album | smurguia | July 12, 2021 | Outside Online
As a synonym for “nonsense,” bunk proved to be just the sort of satisfying, blunt word users crave.From ‘Scientist’ to ‘Spam,’ the Surprisingly Playful Origins of English Words | Ralph Keyes | April 1, 2021 | Time
Most importantly, foreign policy should not be reduced to a synonym for military action and covert operations.After Bipartisan Bush-Obama Blundering, Let’s Try a Libertarian Foreign Policy | Nick Gillespie | July 16, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Less canonically, “natural marriage” is also at times used as a rough synonym for “common-law marriage.”
It's a telling tic that we often use "urban" as a synonym for "black."
My students seem to really want to use “however” as a conjunction—more or less a synonym for “but.”
A synonym given for submissive is “compliant,” and among those given for submit is “yield” and “defer.”
One of the most beautiful symbols of the Catacombs is the dove, the perpetual synonym of peace.The Catacombs of Rome | William Henry Withrow
It came to mean an entertainment of music and dancing, and was used as a synonym for masquerades.Private Letters of Edward Gibbon (1753-1794) Volume 1 (of 2) | Edward Gibbon
Another synonym of tonos which becomes very common in the later writers on music is the word tropos.The Modes of Ancient Greek Music | David Binning Monro
Change the structure of the sentence, substitute one synonym for another, and the whole effect is destroyed.English: Composition and Literature | W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
The profits were beyond all reason, and the word publican became a synonym for sinner.The Private Life of the Romans | Harold Whetstone Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for synonym
a word that means the same or nearly the same as another word, such as bucket and pail
a word or phrase used as another name for something, such as Hellene for a Greek
biology a taxonomic name that has been superseded or rejected
- synonymic or synonymical, adjective
- synonymity, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012