Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or other words in a language.
  • n. A word or an expression that serves as a figurative or symbolic substitute for another.
  • n. Biology A scientific name of an organism or of a taxonomic group that has been superseded by another name at the same rank.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A word or phrase with a meaning that is the same as, or very similar to, another word or phrase.
  • n. Any of the formal names for the taxon, including the valid name (i.e. the senior synonym).
  • n. Any name for the taxon, usually a validly published, formally accepted one, but often also an unpublished name.
  • n. An alternative (often shorter) name defined for an object in a database.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of two or more words (commonly words of the same language) which are equivalents of each other; one of two or more words which have very nearly the same signification, and therefore may often be used interchangeably. See under synonymous.
  • n. An incorrect or incorrectly applied scientific name, as a new name applied to a species or genus already properly named, or a specific name preoccupied by that of another species of the same genus; -- so used in the system of nomenclature (which see) in which the correct scientific names of certain natural groups (usually genera, species, and subspecies) are regarded as determined by priority.
  • n. One of two or more words corresponding in meaning but of different languages; a heteronym.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A word having the same signification as another; one of two or more words which have the same meaning; by extension, a word having nearly the same meaning as another; one of two or more words which in use cover to a considerable extent the same ground: the opposite of antonym.
  • n. A word of one language which corresponds in meaning with a word in another language. See heteronym, 2, paronym, 2, and the quotation from Camden under synonymize.
  • n. In natural history, a systematic name having the same, or approximately the same, meaning or application as another which has superseded it; a technical name which, by the rules of nomenclature, is not tenable.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. two words that can be interchanged in a context are said to be synonymous relative to that context

Etymologies

Middle English sinonyme, from Old French synonyme, from Latin synōnymum, from Greek sunōnumon, from neuter of sunōnumos, synonymous; see synonymous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sinonyme, from Latin synōnymum, from Ancient Greek συνώνυμον (sunōnumon), neuter singular form of συνώνυμος (sunōnumos, "synonymous"), from σύν ("with") + ὄνομα ("name"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In a previous column, cleared by copy editors and other arbiters of editorial taste after great hair-tearing and teeth-gnashing, we explored the penile and ornamental origins of the German-Yiddish schmuck, which has lost its taboo and is now a slang synonym for jerk, nerd, dork and creep.

    No Uncertain Terms

  • Another synonym is "maison de tolérance" (house of tolerance) and the humor is not lost on me as I go about putting together this unexpected edition ...

    Braise The Dog

  • Around 1960, it became a slang synonym for any kind of failure, "we cratered."

    Oil spill: Even worse worst-case scenarios!

  • Maybe we could mix it up with your tag synonym service too?

    Recent Search Queries - Freshblog

  • While the zoot suit eventually attained widespread popularity in the mainstream, it also became a pejorative synonym for "Mexican" on the West Coast as some Americans took umbrage at so many able-bodied young men who were not "helping to win the war."

    From Zoot Suits to Border Walls

  • While toilet and lavatory have discarded their original meanings, terms such as bog retained their original meanings (` a marshy place ') as well as being understood in Britain as a slang synonym for a toilet; it achieved an entry in Hotten's dictionary as early as 1864 as "a privy as distinguished from a water-closet."

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XIX No 4

  • 25 I replied that there was none in the house, which induced a sneer and an ejaculation sounding like “Himar,” (ass,) the slang synonym amongst fast Moslems for water-drinker.

    Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah

  • April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and, to kick things off, I’d like to take issue with the growing prevalence of the word “rape” as a slang synonym for “dominated”, “rocked’, or “killed”.

    Fucking Friday: Rape (S.A.A.M.) | Mind on Fire

  • J. 363 2001)) "states' rights" is used as a pejorative synonym for federalism by people who oppose it, not by people who believe in and advance federalism, subsidiarity and the like.

    I just noticed that Dan Drezner called something "the Ann Althouse" idea.

  • The Hawthornes made up this stupid thing called the synonym game back when Emma and Darcy were little.

    Pies & Prejudice

Comments

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  • Just because it is a synonym, does not mean it connotes the same meaning.

    February 13, 2012

  • JM wonders if there is another word for synonym.

    July 17, 2011

  • Uh, I came here to write the same thing :)

    November 30, 2009

  • A lowercase word that weirdly never existed on Wordie Classic; see Synonym.

    November 18, 2009