syn·​o·​nym | \ ˈsi-nə-ˌnim How to pronounce synonym (audio) \

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
2a : 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

Other Words from synonym

synonymic \ ˌsi-​nə-​ˈni-​mik How to pronounce synonym (audio) \ or less commonly synonymical \ ˌsi-​nə-​ˈni-​mi-​kəl How to pronounce synonym (audio) \ adjective
synonymity \ ˌsi-​nə-​ˈni-​mə-​tē How to pronounce synonym (audio) \ noun

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 Using reticent as a synonym for reluctant is perfectly correct today, whether or not Eliot would agree or the College Board would give credit for that answer. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 July 2022 Several companies sell the drug in the US, for prices that range from $10 to $50 apiece, but Plan B has the largest market share and is a de-facto synonym for the morning-after pill. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 30 June 2022 Álex Quiñónez was the synonym of humility and a clear example of resilience. Fox News, 23 Oct. 2021 Unlock extra features for the extension, like synonym access and a dark mode, with a subscription to Mate Pro. Reece Rogers, Wired, 31 Mar. 2022 It can be injected or administered as a nasal spray called Narcan, a brand name that has become a synonym for saving lives. Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2022 But these are not entirely passive human beings: the usual synonym for un badaud is un curieux, who may lack the sophisticated investigative gaze of the flaneur but is not entirely impervious to his surroundings. Julian Barnes, The New York Review of Books, 27 Apr. 2022 Clive Davis’ name is a synonym for the ultimate record man. Jem Aswad, Variety, 7 Apr. 2022 For a long time, boxed wine was a synonym for the cheapest, sweetest wines available, like Franzia and Bota Box. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of synonym

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for synonym

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

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Time Traveler for synonym

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

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Last Updated

28 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Synonym.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for synonym


syn·​o·​nym | \ ˈsi-nə-ˌnim How to pronounce synonym (audio) \

Kids Definition of synonym

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


syn·​onym | \ ˈsin-ə-ˌnim How to pronounce synonym (audio) \

Medical Definition of synonym

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

Other Words from synonym

synonymity \ ˌsin-​ə-​ˈnim-​ət-​ē How to pronounce synonym (audio) \ noun, plural synonymities


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