FAQ - English & Grammar

What Is a Synonym? Definition and Examples

What Is a Synonym?


A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same meaning, or a similar meaning, of another word or phrase (e.g., good=decent). These terms are found in most of the eight parts of speech of the English language. As long as a synonym belongs to the same part of speech as the original word, both terms can be used interchangeably.


A word that has the exact opposite definition of another word is called an antonym. Some common antonyms include hot and cold, big and small, and tall and short. 

Synonym Examples

The following is a list of synonyms used in a sentence, organized by part of speech.



Oxygen is essential for survival.

Oxygen is critical for survival.



The baby wouldn’t stop crying.

The infant wouldn’t stop crying.



Melissa tossed the pillow out of the way.

Melissa threw the pillow out of the way.



Elisa slowly read the words in English.

Elisa gradually read the words in English.



Did you look under the bed?

Did you look below the bed?



She wanted the red one, but she accepted the blue one.

She wanted the red one. However, she accepted the blue one.



Eek! That’s improper grammar!

Yikes! That’s improper grammar!


Why Use Synonyms


Using synonyms provides benefits in writing and everyday speaking. In writing, they can help provide variety and prevent dull, repetitive text, while in speech, they can help improve communication. They can also provide more clarity. For instance, “boiling water” is more specific than “hot water.” Some would consider water “hot” at 90 degrees, but water must reach a temperature of approximately 212 degrees to boil. Therefore, using “boiling” instead of “hot” provides more specific detail about the temperature of the water.


In addition, synonyms are commonly used to add formality to speech or written language—or to make a word more informal. For instance, when communicating with a friend, one might use the informal word “broke” to describe their financial situation. However, if they wanted to be more formal, they might use the word “destitute.”


How to Find Synonyms


An online or physical thesaurus is a great tool for finding synonyms. Just as with a dictionary, words are organized in alphabetical order in a thesaurus. However, instead of a definition, a list of equivalent terms appears after each word. An online dictionary can also be a great source for synonyms, as many include a few synonyms next to the definition for certain words. Many online word processors like Microsoft Word and Google Docs also provide a list of synonyms. These lists can be easily accessed simply by highlighting a word.


More Examples of Synonyms


Ambitious: determined, ruthless

And: also, in addition to

Associate: partner, friend

Beautiful: gorgeous, attractive

Compliant: obedient, submissive

Confusing: unclear, puzzling

Different: distinct, contrasting

Difficult: challenging, hard

Essay: dissertation, article

Excited: happy, enthusiastic

Fly: drift, soar

Grab: clutch, grasp

Grammar: syntax, linguistics

Hair: fur, mane

Incredible: unbelievable, fantastic

Insect: bug, pest

Introverted: reclusive, withdrawn

Jump: hop, leap

Learn: study, acquire

Malevolent: evil, cruel

New: novel, original

Old: dated, ancient

Opportunity: chance, opening

Over: above, on top of

Pour: empty, transfer

Quickly: rapidly, speedily

Quiz: exam, test

Rich: wealthy, affluent

Smack: slap, spank

Stab: pierce, puncture

Story: tale, anecdote

Lucky: fortunate, blessed

Time: hour, o'clock

Vocabulary: jargon, dialect

Walk: stride, stroll

Weak: frail, feeble

Work: Labor, toil



Synonyms at a Glance

Synonyms are words that share the equivalent or similar meaning with other words. These words help provide variety in writing and speech while adding specificity. Synonyms can also give writers and speakers more flexibility with how formal or informal they want to be in their method of communication. A thesaurus is a resource that lists words in alphabetical order, with a list of synonyms or related concepts next to them.

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