Synonymy is the sense relation that exists between words with closely related meanings.
- Synonyms and Variety of Expression, by Walter Alexander Raleigh
- Associative Meaning
- Denotation and Connotation
- Elegant Variation
- Kangaroo Word
- Name That -nym
- Reflected Meaning
- Writers on Writing: Ten Tips for Finding the Right Words
Etymology:From the Greek, "same name"
Examples and Observations:
- "Words are seldom exactly synonymous; a new term was not introduced, but because the former was thought inadequate."
(Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755)
- "The search for synonyms is a well-established classroom exercise, but it as well to remember that lexemes rarely (if ever) have exactly the same meaning. There are usually stylistic, regional, emotional, or other differences to consider . . .. Two lexemes might be synonymous in one sentence but different in another: range and selection are synonyms in What a nice - of furnishings, but not in There's the mountain -."
(David Crystal, How Language Works. Overlook, 2006)
- "Good, excellent, superior, above par, nice, fine, choice, rare, priceless, unparagoned, unparalleled, superfine, superexcellent, of the first water, crack, prime, tip-top, gilt-edged, first-class, capital, cardinal, couleur de rose, peerless, matchless, inestimable,
precious as the apple of the eye, satisfactory, fair, fresh, unspoiled, sound. GKN: over 80 companies making steel and steel products."
(ad campaign for Guest, Keen, & Nettlefolds, Ltd., 1961)
- "What words do people use for a strip of grass between the sidewalk (in Britain: pavement) and the street? The research team [for the Dictionary of American Regional English] found boulevard, devil strip, grass plot, neutral ground, parking strip, parkway, terrace, tree bank, tree belt, tree lawn and many more."
(David Crystal, The Story of English in 100 Words. St. Martin's Press, 2012)
- Synonymia as a Rhetorical Figure
"Synonymia is a figure that has come down in the world. . . . The foundation-stone of Erasmus's theory of eloquence and of 16th-century literary practice, it had begun to fall out of fashion by 1600 and so became associated with acknowledged 'vices of style' such as repetitiousness (tautology), redundancy (pleonasm), and general long-windedness (macrology). . . . In literary criticism, it is either ignored or introduced apologetically as a stumbling-block to modern readers' enjoyment of Tudor writing. . . .
"At one end of its modern spectrum is its 'realistic' use, illustrated below from a recent Ruth Rendell novel, where synonymia is a character indicator in the speech-style of a minor character, George Troy.
'I'm retired, you see,' he went on. 'Yes, I've given up gainful employment, a bit of an old has-been, that's me. No longer the breadwinner . . ..To judge by the comments of other characters, Rendell expects her readers to find Troy's verbal variations either irritating or pathetic, irritating as a form of futile verbosity, pathetic as a symptom of encroaching senility."
But she--well, she has such grasp, she has such ability to manage things, organise, you know, get everything straight--well, shipshape and Bristol fashion . . .
[The Babes in the Woods, 2004]
(Sylvia Adamson, "Synonymia: or, in Other Words." Renaissance Figures of Speech, ed. by Sylvia Adamson, Gavin Alexander, and Katrin Ettenhuber. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008)
- The Lighter Side of Synonyms
"We have so many ways of saying hello. Howdy, hi there, how are ya, how ya doin', how's it goin', how do ya do, what's new, what's goin' on, whaddaya think, whaddaya hear, whaddaya say, whaddaya feel, what's happenin', what's shakin', que pasa, what's goin' down, and what it is?"
(George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty, 2001)
"Relax? I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or . . . Only two synonyms? Oh my! I'm losing my perspicacity!"
(Lisa, The Simpsons)
"A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one."
(attributed to Baltasar Gracian)
The American Slang Dictionary lists over 400 synonyms for drunk. Here are just a few:
off the wagon
three sheets to the wind