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



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,

And: also, in addition to

Associate: partner,

Beautiful: gorgeous,

Compliant: obedient,

Confusing: unclear,

Different: distinct,

challenging, hard

Essay: dissertation, article

Excited: happy, enthusiastic

Fly: drift, soar

Grab: clutch, grasp

Grammar: syntax, linguistics

Hair: fur, mane

unbelievable, fantastic

Insect: bug, pest

Introverted: reclusive,

Jump: hop, leap

Learn: study, acquire

Malevolent: evil, cruel

New: novel, original

Old: dated, ancient

Opportunity: chance,

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,

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


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