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  1. of, pertaining to, proceeding by, or involving synthesis (opposed to analytic).
  2. noting or pertaining to compounds formed through a chemical process by human agency, as opposed to those of natural origin: synthetic vitamins; synthetic fiber.
  3. (of a language) characterized by a relatively widespread use of affixes, rather than separate words, to express syntactic relationships: Latin is a synthetic language, while English is analytic.Compare analytic(def 3), polysynthetic(def 1).
  4. Also syn·thet·i·cal. Logic. of or relating to a noncontradictory proposition in which the predicate is not included in, or entailed by, the subject.
  5. not real or genuine; artificial; feigned: a synthetic chuckle at a poor joke.
  6. Jewelry.
    1. noting a gem mineral manufactured so as to be physically, chemically, and optically identical with the mineral as found in nature.
    2. (not in technical use) noting a gem mineral manufactured and pigmented in imitation of a natural gemstone of that name.
  1. something made by a synthetic, or chemical, process.
  2. synthetics.
    1. substances or products made by chemical synthesis, as plastics or artificial fibers.
    2. the science or industry concerned with such products.

Origin of synthetic

1690–1700; < New Latin syntheticus < Greek synthetikós, equivalent to synthet(ós) placed together, verbid of syntithénai to put together (syn- syn- + the-, stem of tithénai to put, place + -tos verbid suffix) + -ikos -ic
Related formssyn·thet·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·syn·thet·ic, adjectivenon·syn·thet·i·cal, adjectivenon·syn·thet·i·cal·ly, adverbun·syn·thet·ic, adjectiveun·syn·thet·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for synthetic

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for synthetic


adjective Also: synthetical
  1. (of a substance or material) made artificially by chemical reaction
  2. not genuine; insinceresynthetic compassion
  3. denoting languages, such as Latin, whose morphology is characterized by synthesisCompare polysynthetic, agglutinative (def. 2), analytic (def. 3)
  4. philosophy
    1. (of a proposition) having a truth-value that is not determined solely by virtue of the meanings of the words, as in all men are arrogant
    2. contingentCompare a posteriori, empirical
  1. a synthetic substance or material
Derived Formssynthetically, adverb

Word Origin for synthetic

C17: from New Latin syntheticus, from Greek sunthetikos expert in putting together, from suntithenai to put together; see synthesis
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

Word Origin and History for synthetic

1690s, as a term in logic, from French synthétique (17c.), from Modern Latin syntheticus, from Greek synthetikos, from synthetos, past participle of syntithenai (see synthesis). From 1874 in reference to products or materials made artificially by chemical synthesis; hence "artificial" (1930).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

synthetic in Medicine


  1. Relating to or involving synthesis.
  2. Produced by chemical synthesis, especially not of natural origin.
  1. A synthetic chemical compound or material.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

synthetic in Science


  1. Produced artificially, especially in a laboratory or other man-made environment. Nylon is a synthetic chemical compound.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.