What are Synonyms?

What are

“Umm… what is that word… umm… it has this meaning only but is much better to use at this point.” We all tend to have this thought at least once when we are writing something. Though we know what we have to say, we use prettier words (by pretty I mean more appealing to read and hear!) to articulate our thoughts. We feel they will add beauty to our narrative. And that’s true. These words that we search for instead of the original word are called synonyms. 

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines synonym as “one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses” or “a word or phrase that by association is held to embody something (such as a concept or quality)”.

However, there is a catch. Not all synonyms have the same meaning. While writing synonyms we must take into consideration the actual meaning of the words and whether or not, in that situation the words can be used interchangeably. For example, a synonym for the word watch is look. However, in many cases, this cannot be used interchangeably. 

But why use synonyms?

But what’s the use of using synonyms when the meaning is delivered by the original word as well? Not just to enhance the work, synonyms are also used to avoid the repetition of words. If a writer is writing for a particular topic and one particular word is repeated way too much, the writer can use it synonym so that the meaning is also delivered, and words are also not repeated. 

There are three types of synonyms, namely —

Absolute synonyms, Partial synonyms, and Near synonyms.

  1. Absolute synonyms mean the words have exactly the same meaning. They can be used interchangeably without altering the meaning of the sentence. 


  1. Food – Dish
  2. Beverage — Drink
  3. Twin — Same

2. Partial synonyms are words that have almost the same meaning as the word. There is only a slight difference but not a major difference to alter the meaning of the sentence.


  1. Snake — Reptile
  2. Big — Huge
  3. Small — Petite

3. Near synonyms are words that have a different meaning but can be used in the place of original words. These words may bring a slight change in the meaning. Also, they cannot be used interchangeably.


  1. Weak — Thin
  2. Beautiful — Graceful
  3. Smart – Clever

Words similar to Synonyms

There are also word relationships that are similar to synonyms. These words also have the same or similar meaning to others but not necessarily be called synonyms. These are of three types — polysemy, homonymy, and contronymy. 

Polysemy words are words that have multiple meanings. Their meaning is not just one and can be used in multiple ways. The word cold has multiple meanings. 


  1. It is cold outside. 
  2. He has a cold and runny nose.
  3. He likes cold coffee.

Homonymy words are words that have the same pronunciation but have different meanings. They are of two types — homophones (which have words with different spelling and different meanings) and homographs (which have different spellings but the same spellings)


  1. Peep (‘making a feeble shrill sound’) and peep (‘look cautiously’).
  2. peer (‘person belonging to the same group in age and status’) and peer (‘look searchingly’)
  3. there and their

Contronymy words are words that are spelled and pronounced the same but their meaning is entirely opposite or different. They can’t be used in place of each other.


  1. Fine (good enough) and fine (punishment fee)
  2. Left (to leave) and left (direction)
  3. Fast (move quickly) and fast (a ritual in which a person doesn’t eat)
Now next time when you want to write synonyms do not forget to refer to this blog. Save it on your computers for it will make you under and find what kind of synonym will be perfect for your work. It will for sure make your work more beautiful. 
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