[ sin-uh-nim ]
See synonyms for: synonymsynonymicsynonymity on

  1. a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word in the same language, as happy, joyful, elated. A dictionary of synonyms and antonyms (or opposites), such as, is called a thesaurus.

  2. a word or expression accepted as another name for something, as Arcadia for pastoral simplicity or Wall Street for U.S. financial markets;metonym.

  1. Biology. one of two or more scientific names applied to a single taxon.

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Origin of synonym

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English sinoneme, from Old French sinonime and Latin synōnymum, from Greek synṓnymon, noun use of neuter of synṓnymos synonymous

Grammar notes for synonym

English, with its long history of absorbing terminology from a wealth of other tongues, is a language particularly rich in synonyms —words so close in meaning that in many contexts they are interchangeable, like the nouns tongue and language in the first part of this sentence. Just about every popular dictionary defines synonym as a term having “the same or nearly the same” meaning as another, but there is an important difference between “the same” and “nearly the same.”
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.

Other words from synonym

  • 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

Words Nearby synonym Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use synonym in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for synonym


/ (ˈsɪnənɪm) /

  1. a word that means the same or nearly the same as another word, such as bucket and pail

  2. a word or phrase used as another name for something, such as Hellene for a Greek

  1. biology a taxonomic name that has been superseded or rejected

Origin of synonym

C16: via Late Latin from Greek sunōnumon, from syn- + onoma name

Derived forms of synonym

  • 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