Definition of synonym in US English:



  • 1A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close.

    • ‘In Britain, ‘dessert’ is sometimes regarded as an elegant synonym for the words ‘pudding’, or ‘sweet’, which are used in the same collective sense.’
    • ‘Again, there must be several thousand distinct strings in this set, and this is one of many patterns where there would be something to be learned about synonyms, antonyms and word associations by compiling the list.’
    • ‘Frequently, however, that term is a synonym for horribly divided.’
    • ‘In its most common meaning, the term idea is used as a synonym for theme, melody, phrase or motive.’
    • ‘He points out that I used hue in the sub-title of my article about colour words almost as a synonym for colour.’
    • ‘In brief, ‘primitive’ became a synonym of the word ‘different’, an umbrella definition for all things that were alien to the cultural commentator.’
    • ‘Remember that these ingredients can go by other names: sugar has synonyms like sucrose, glucose, maltose, lactose, fructose, and corn syrup.’
    • ‘For simplicity's sake, I use the term here as a synonym for gravitational wave, as researchers themselves often do when speaking casually.’
    • ‘Popular culture too has come to use the word gender as a synonym for sex.’
    • ‘I could probably name a thousand synonyms if I tried hard enough, but I'm not really planning on trying that hard.’
    • ‘The other sense of the word is as a synonym for ‘tyrant’ or a person who abuses power and violates human rights.’
    • ‘Have we provided a synonym for a description or definition?’
    • ‘The term histrionic here is being used as a synonym for theatrical or dramatic.’
    • ‘The word ‘democracy’ was used as a synonym for good and just government.’
    • ‘Something that happens or occurs may be called an incident; in most cases the word is simply a synonym for occurrence.’
    • ‘Clarity is not a synonym for simplicity but it comes close.’
    • ‘It was common ground that the closest synonym of damage is harm.’
    • ‘The word text is frequently employed as a synonym for a term like ‘written document’.’
    • ‘Some think that considerations like this show that there are no genuine synonyms in natural languages.’
    • ‘Many persons persist with the earlier, naive, view that the role of a definition is only to offer a synonym for the term to be defined.’
    1. 1.1 A person or thing so closely associated with a particular quality or idea that the mention of their name calls it to mind.
      ‘the Victorian age is a synonym for sexual puritanism’
    2. 1.2Biology A taxonomic name which has the same application as another, especially one which has been superseded and is no longer valid.
      • ‘Or they can click on links to more detailed information on each species, such as scientific and common names, synonyms, native distribution, and botanical uses.’
      • ‘The Choristodera in general, and particularly the Champsosauridae, are plagued with bad names - junior synonyms of unrelated genera and the like.’
      • ‘Thus, we use the name P. ultima as the senior synonym of P. praetriangularis.’
      • ‘Most likely, these taxa are synonyms of more recently named taxa, but this cannot be demonstrated because the types of the older taxa are incompletely preserved.’
      • ‘Molecular studies support the monophyly of all these taxa as Ecdysozoa, so the term Spiralia is sometimes used as a synonym for the non-molting protostomes, Lophotrochozoa.’


Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek sunōnumon, neuter (used as a noun) of the adjective sunōnumos, from sun- ‘with’ + onoma ‘name’.