Dictionary.com Word FAQs
Why is there often more than one word in English for what seems to be the same or almost the same concept?
The English language is a great borrower, a melting pot - much like the country itself. The influence of so many other languages and English's various main sources - Latin, Greek, Anglo-Saxon, and French - mean that we have synonyms when many other languages do not. The richness of the English vocabulary and the wealth of available synonyms mean that English speakers can often draw shades of distinction unavailable to non-English speakers. English is the only language that has books of synonyms like Roget's Thesaurus. In fact, there may actually be no lexemes which have exactly the same meaning. There may be no true synonyms. It is usually possible to find some nuance which separates them, or a context in which one of the lexemes can appear but the other(s) cannot. The nuances can include dialect differences, stylistic differences, collocational differences, or differences of emotional feeling or connotation.