noun syn·o·nym \ ˈsi-nə-ˌnim \
Updated on: 17 Feb 2018

Definition of synonym

1 : 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
2 a : 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
b : metonym
3 : one of two or more scientific names used to designate the same taxonomic group — compare homonym


play \ˌsi-nə-ˈni-mik\ or less commonly synonymical play \-mi-kəl\ adjective


play \-ˈni-mə-tē\ noun

Examples of synonym in a Sentence

  1. 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 McGinnThe New York Review of Books27 Sept. 2007
  2. 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.Time5 Mar. 2001
  3. "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'RourkeRepublican Party Reptile1987
  4. “Small” and “little” are synonyms.

Recent Examples of synonym from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'synonym.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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.

Origin and Etymology of synonym

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

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

SYNONYM Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of synonym for English Language Learners

  • : a word that has the same meaning as another word in the same language

  • : a word, name, or phrase that very strongly suggests a particular idea, quality, etc.

SYNONYM Defined for Kids


noun syn·o·nym \ ˈsi-nə-ˌnim \

Definition of synonym for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


noun syn·onym \ ˈsin-ə-ˌnim \

medical Definition of synonym

: a taxonomic name rejected as being incorrectly applied or incorrect in form


play \ˌsin-ə-ˈnim-ət-ē\ noun plural -ties

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an inn where caravans rest at night

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