synonym

[sin-uh-nim]
noun
1.
a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language, as happy, joyful, elated. A dictionary of synonyms and antonyms (or opposites), such as Thesaurus.com, is called a thesaurus.
2.
a word or expression accepted as another name for something, as Arcadia for pastoral simplicity or Wall Street for U.S. financial markets; metonym.
3.
Biology. one of two or more scientific names applied to a single taxon.

Origin:
1400–50; < Latin synōnymum < Greek synṓnymon, noun use of neuter of synṓnymos synonymous; replacing Middle English sinonyme < Middle French < Latin, as above

synonymic, synonymical, adjective
synonymity [sin-uh-nim-i-tee] , noun


English, with its long history of absorbing terminology from a wealth of other tongues, is a language particularly rich in synonyms—words so close in meaning that in many contexts they are interchangeable, like the nouns tongue and language in the first part of this sentence. Just about every popular dictionary defines synonym as a term having “the same or nearly the same” meaning as another, but there is an important difference between “the same” and “nearly the same.”
Noun synonyms sometimes mean exactly the same thing. A Dalmatian is a coach dog—same dog. A bureau is a chest of drawers. And if you ask for a soda on the east coast of the U.S., you’ll get the same drink that asking for a pop will get you farther west. The object referred to remains constant. But forest and wood, though often interchangeable, have different shades of meaning: a forest tends to be larger and denser than a wood. And when we move from nouns to other parts of speech, we almost always find subtle but important differences among synonyms: although the meanings overlap, they differ in emphasis and connotation. A sunset might be described equally well as beautiful or resplendent, but a beautiful baby would not usually be described as resplendent, which implies an especially dazzling appearance. The verbs make and construct mean roughly the same thing, but one is more likely to make a cake but construct a building, which is a more complex undertaking.
Lists of synonyms are useful when we are struggling to write and looking for just the right word, but each word must be considered in light of its specific definition. Notes at the bottom of a dictionary entry—especially usage notes and synonym studies—are often where we’ll find the detailed information that allows us to improve (or refine or polish) our writing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
synonym (ˈsɪnənɪm)
 
n
1.  a word that means the same or nearly the same as another word, such as bucket and pail
2.  a word or phrase used as another name for something, such as Hellene for a Greek
3.  biology a taxonomic name that has been superseded or rejected
 
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek sunōnumon, from syn- + onoma name]
 
syno'nymic
 
adj
 
syno'nymical
 
adj
 
syno'nymity
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

synonym
early 15c. (but rare before 18c.), from L. synonymum, from Gk. synonymon "word having the same sense as another," noun use of neut. of synonymos "having the same name as, synonymous," from syn- "together, same" + onyma, Aeolic dialectal form of onoma "name" (see name).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

synonyms definition


Words that mean roughly the same thing. Container and receptacle are synonyms.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Remind students that synonyms are words that mean the same or almost the same
  thing.
The alien words, it is supposed, drove their native synonyms out of use.
Most modern dictionaries state spontaneous generation and abiogenesis are
  synonyms.
Despite sometimes being used as synonyms, faith and trust are not the same
  thing.
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