Grammar Synonyms: What Is a Synonym? |
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Synonyms: What Is a Synonym?

Have you come across the word synonym and not been sure what it means? Or do you have somewhat of an idea of the definition but nothing specific enough to provide an example? If so, this post can help.

So let’s get right to it: What is a synonym?

The Meaning of Synonym

A synonym is a word that either has the same meaning as another word or a use and association that is close to that of another word.

For example, happy and joyful are synonyms. Although joyful is perhaps more specific about a person’s mood, the words are nearly interchangeable.

For another example, consider kind, nice, and friendly. Each of these word choices can suggest a particular trait depending on the context, but they generally mean the same thing. (To find synonyms when you need them, you can search in a printed or online thesaurus.)

Note that a synonym can sometimes be used as a metaphorical noun. For instance, someone could write increased droughts have become a synonym for climate change. While less common, these usages create an association or a resemblance between two different things.

Also note that English speakers may sometimes confuse synonym with cinnamon because the words are homonyms, meaning they are pronounced similarly but differ in meaning. This is just a coincidence, however. Although synonyms can occasionally sweeten your writing, they shouldn’t be added to recipes.

More Examples of Synonyms

Whether you are aware or not, you probably use synonyms each day. Let’s look at more examples:

rich > wealthy

strong > solid

extroverted > outgoing

essential > necessary

snowy > wintry

hot > scorching

late > tardy

fast > rapid

You can probably think of lots of other synonyms if you put your mind to it. Our goal in this post is to ensure you can identify and draw upon synonyms when you want or need to, which brings us to our closing question:

Why Are Synonyms Important?

Synonyms add to your writing by broadening your vocabulary and your ideas. Rather than over-rely on one particular word, you can draw from similar words to keep your compositions fresh.

For example, if you are writing about an intelligent professor, you could describe her within a paragraph as smart, sharp, and insightful as opposed to identifying her as smart three times.

There may also be times when one synonym might be a better choice than another because either it’s more precise or it better reflects the mood you wish to convey. Consider the following sentences:

I drove through pounding rain on the way to work today.

I drove through a downpour on the way to work today.

The main synonyms here are the noun phrase pounding rain and the noun downpour. Each creates a similar image but suggests a subtle difference in intensity. That’s the power of synonyms.

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