Synonyms - Synonym Definition & Examples | Ginger Software


Definition of Synonym

A synonym is simply a word or phrase that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase. In English, there are many words with the same or very similar meaning and we say that those words are synonymous (with each other). While it may seem pointless to learn lots of words with the same meaning, having command of different synonyms can improve your control of language and make your speaking and writing more interesting and varied. However, whiles knowing more than one way to express something is beneficial, there will always be occasions when only a specific word will do. For example, synonyms of the word sick could include: ill, poorly, unwell, ailing, out of sorts and under the weather. While they all effectively mean the same thing, that someone isn’t enjoying good health, we would probably refrain from using unwell, out of sorts and under the weather if someone was seriously ill as they are suggestive of minor ailments. Another way to think of the distinctions between synonyms is thinking about color. Synonyms for the color red include scarlet, crimson, and vermillion. If describing a sweater, any of those synonyms would work, but when talking about a ruby, vermillion would sound funny. Incidentally, words that have the opposite meaning of each other are called antonyms.

Differences Between Synonyms and Antonyms

There are lots of words in English that have the same meaning (synonyms) and lots of words that have opposite meaning (antonyms). For example, synonyms of the word evil could be malicious, wicked, bad or sinful, whereas an antonym for the word evil could be good.

However, it’s important to remember that some words have different meanings and not all those meanings of the word are synonyms of another word. That’s quite a difficult concept to understand, so let’s once again look at the example of the word sick. As we have seen, sick can mean to be ill, but it can also mean to be nauseous, crazy, or tasteless or used as an adjective for boredom or the verb to throw up. None of these are synonyms of each other.

The examples above should make it clear that not all synonyms of one word are synonyms of the same word when it has different meanings. It’s also important to grasp that all synonyms of a word are antonyms of the antonym of that word, otherwise it wouldn’t be a synonym. For example, the synonyms big, large, huge, giant and immense would all share the antonym small.

Examples of Synonyms in Sentences

The use of synonyms can help with the style of writing, especially in cases where repetition of a word might make a passage of writing look clumsy. Consider the sentences below which use several synonyms:

Albert was certainly funny. His comical nature meant that his amusing stories were almost always hilarious.

It was a strange tale, full of odd characters and weird happenings. Then again, Jimmy was a peculiar character.

I wanted to give her a gift. I felt she deserved a reward for her hard work, and a gold watch would be the perfect present to mark the occasion.

She had a gift, with some citing it as a unique aptitude for understanding mathematics. It was clear she had inherited the skill from her mother, who also had the knack of solving difficult equations.

I looked at the birds with a sense of wonder. Each time I had observed sparrows in the past, I felt that I viewed creatures of no consequence. But as I watched these beautiful birds dance across the branches, I knew I beheld one of Nature’s marvels.

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