syn·​o·​nym ˈsi-nə-ˌnim How to pronounce synonym (audio)
: one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses
: a word or phrase that by association is held to embody something (such as a concept or quality)
a tyrant whose name has become a synonym for oppression
: one of two or more scientific names used to designate the same taxonomic group compare homonym
synonymic adjective
or less commonly synonymical
synonymity noun

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Some Differences Between Synonyms and Antonyms

The English language (and, we may presume, many other languages) has both antonyms and synonyms. There are many more words with synonyms than there are words with antonyms, since many things exist which do not have an opposite (the word sandwich, for instance, may be said to have synonyms in the words hoagie, grinder, submarine, and many other words, but there is no opposite of sandwich). Antonym is also a much more recent addition to English than synonym is; it first appeared in the 1860s, whereas synonym has been used for more than 500 years. Additionally, both nouns have adjectival forms: synonymous and antonymous. Synonymous, which is often used loosely ("She has become synonymous with good taste"), is the more common of the two.

Examples of synonym in a Sentence

I very much enjoyed the chapter on obscenity, which asks the difficult question of how words deemed taboo differ from their inoffensive synonyms …  . It can't obviously be the referent of the term, since that is the same, and it isn't merely that the taboo words are more accurately descriptive … Colin McGinn, The New York Review of Books, 27 Sept. 2007
The debris hurtled by so fast that the New York Times editorial page seemed to run out of synonyms for disgust, revulsion and abuse. Michael Duffy et al., Time, 5 Mar. 2001
"Hollywood" is not, of course, a place. Nor is it a synonym for the entertainment business. There are upstanding citizens who make their living in that field. P. J. O'Rourke, Republican Party Reptile, 1987
“Small” and “little” are synonyms.
Recent Examples on the Web Las Vegas, the venue for Super Bowl LVIII, could be a synonym for the private jet business entering 2024. Doug Gollan, Forbes, 11 Feb. 2024 Also known as miners’ courts, vigilante posses, lynch mobs, and several other synonyms of varying positivity, vigilance committees were quite simply private citizens taking the law into their own hands, often in violent ways and usually in the absence of law enforcement alternatives. David Reamer | Alaska History, Anchorage Daily News, 18 June 2023 In the public imagination, NYCHA is practically a synonym for a situation without a solution: ballooning costs, rickety revenue, public contempt, bleak conditions for residents, and the indignity of a federal monitor. Curbed, 9 Jan. 2024 Investment is not simply a synonym for a bigger government. David Leonhardt, New York Times, 17 Oct. 2023 The condition is that these cars must run only on synthetic fuel (or its more online-sounding synonym, e-fuel). Hazel Southwell, Ars Technica, 5 May 2023 My critics seem to see diplomacy as a synonym for surrender rather than as an important tool of statecraft. Samuel Charap, Foreign Affairs, 13 July 2023 Watching grass grow has long been a synonym for boredom. Diane Bell, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 July 2023 Despite a higher price point, consumers favor Chew & Chill’s superior quality and experience, fostering strong customer retention and positioning the brand as a synonym for excellence in the burgeoning cannabis edibles market. Joshua Adragna, Rolling Stone, 30 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English sinonyme, from Latin synonymum, from Greek synōnymon, from neuter of synōnymos synonymous, from syn- + onyma name — more at name

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of synonym was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near synonym

Cite this Entry

“Synonym.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a word having the same or almost the same meaning as another word in the same language

Medical Definition


syn·​onym ˈsin-ə-ˌnim How to pronounce synonym (audio)
: a taxonomic name rejected as being incorrectly applied or incorrect in form
synonymity noun
plural synonymities
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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