sim·​i·​lar ˈsi-mə-lər How to pronounce similar (audio)
: having characteristics in common : strictly comparable
: alike in substance or essentials : corresponding
no two animal habitats are exactly similarW. H. Dowdeswell
: not differing in shape but only in size or position
similar triangles
similar polygons
similarly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for similar

similar, analogous, parallel mean closely resembling each other.

similar implies the possibility of being mistaken for each other.

all the houses in the development are similar

analogous applies to things belonging in essentially different categories but nevertheless having many similarities.

analogous political systems

parallel suggests a marked likeness in the development of two things.

the parallel careers of two movie stars

Examples of similar in a Sentence

This month, General Electric's health-care division will begin marketing a first-of-its-kind electrocardiograph machine in the U.S. Although packed with the latest technology, the battery-powered device weighs just six pounds, half as much as the smallest ECG machine currently for sale. It will retail for a mere $2,500, an 80% markdown from products with similar capabilities. Reena Jana, Business Week, 23 & 30 Mar. 2009
There's a reason boards of directors can pluck so many CEOs out of one company and plop them into another: When it comes to management ideas and tools, many companies are surprisingly similar. They have the same hierarchies and budgeting processes. Jena McGregor, Business Week, 8 Oct. 2007
Though the trends were similar, the new patterns of consumption varied both regionally and nationally, as they continue to do today. John Brewer, New York Review of Books, 30 Nov. 2006
Our cats are similar in size. You two look very similar to each other. They had similar experiences growing up, even though they came from vastly different backgrounds. We got remarkably similar results. I was going to say something similar. I would have reacted in a similar way if it had happened to me.
Recent Examples on the Web Nicholas Stoller — who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, and Neighbors (a film with a similar not-my-turf theme) — will helm the film, which is slated for release via Amazon Prime Video on Jan. 30, 2025. Charisma Madarang, Rolling Stone, 15 May 2024 Family members were angry and disappointed after a similar meeting last month. David Koenig, Fortune, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for similar 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'similar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


earlier, "(of parts of the body) made up of one substance, homogeneous," borrowed from Medieval Latin similāris, from Latin similis "having characteristics in common, like" + -āris -ar; similis going back to dialectal Indo-European *sm̥h2-el-i- (whence also, with different stem formations, Old Irish amal, preposition, "like, as," samail "likeness, similarity," Middle Welsh hafal "like, similar," Greek homalόs "even, uniform, equal, like"), derivative of *semh2 "one, one and the same" — more at same entry 1

Note: Latin similis is presumably from *semilis, with e > i before a sonorant and a following i. Compare from the same stem simul "in company, together, at the same time" (semol in an early inscription), with i carried over from similis (see simultaneous); and semel "a single time, once" (see semelparous). — The Celtic outcomes show an internal change of *-ema- > *-ama- ("Joseph's Law"). The initial o in Greek homalόs, for expected *a, has probably been carried over from homόs "shared among all, common, same," homoîos "like, similar" (see homo- homeo-), — A different analysis of similis and like words has been proposed by G.E. Dunkel (Lexikon der indogermanischen Partikeln und Pronominalstämme, Heidelberg, 2014, p. 726). Behind similis the author sees *sm̥-h2el-ó-, with *sm̥- as zero-grade of *som- "together, with, the same" and *h2el- taken to be the verbal base meaning "nourish, bring up" (see old entry 1)—hence the compound would have meant "of equal growth," whence "like, similar." Dunkel analyzes semel "a single time," differently, however, as *sem-le, with *sem- "one" and *le "over there, distant" (pp. 491, 673).

First Known Use

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of similar was in 1586

Dictionary Entries Near similar

Cite this Entry

“Similar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


sim·​i·​lar ˈsim-(ə-)lər How to pronounce similar (audio)
: having qualities in common
: not differing in shape but only in size or position
similar triangles
similarly adverb

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