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
3 : one of two or more scientific names used to designate the same taxonomic group — compare homonym

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Other Words from synonym

synonymic \ ˌsi-​nə-​ˈni-​mik How to pronounce synonymic (audio) \ or less commonly synonymical \ ˌsi-​nə-​ˈni-​mi-​kəl How to pronounce synonymical (audio) \ adjective
synonymity \ ˌsi-​nə-​ˈni-​mə-​tē How to pronounce synonymity (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web But demystification is too often a synonym for dumbing down. The New York Times News Service Syndicate, The Denver Post, "Rosé champagne brings the holiday joy," 28 Dec. 2019 Messari Research’ is a synonym for Messari founder Ryan Selkis). David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Behind the Scenes of Our Deep Dive on Libra," 18 Dec. 2019 Baathism — a synonym for pan-Arabic socialism — ruined the post-war Middle East. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "History Has Shown That Socialism Isn’t the Cure," 7 Nov. 2019 But the process Tottenham have gone through since Pochettino took charge in 2014 was geared towards ditching the perception that Spurs were soft, timid, or another synonym for soft., "Tottenham Sink Further in Sea of Gloom - and Mauricio Pochettino Is Struggling to Breathe," 25 Sep. 2019 This is what the app economy, often a synonym for the new economy, demands. Casey Newton, The Verge, "It’s time to regulate tech platforms with laws, not fines," 30 July 2019 Fat from the American rattlesnake isn’t so useful, but that didn’t stop entrepreneurs from rendering the fat, bottling it—and turning snake oil into a synonym for quackery. Lloyd Minor, Fortune, "Why Google’s Crackdown on Fake Medicine Is So Important," 9 Sep. 2019 The region has been a synonym for remote for centuries. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, "Russian Land of Permafrost and Mammoths Is Thawing," 4 Aug. 2019 For now, e-girl might just be a synonym for being young, female, and very online, and therefore tied to whatever connotations those things hold. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "E-girls and e-boys, explained," 1 Aug. 2019

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Synonym.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for synonym


How to pronounce synonym (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of synonym

: 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.


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 synonymity (audio) \ noun, plural synonymities

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More from Merriam-Webster on synonym

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with synonym

Spanish Central: Translation of synonym

Nglish: Translation of synonym for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of synonym for Arabic Speakers

Comments on synonym

What made you want to look up synonym? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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