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What is a Synonym? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

In this lesson, we will look at the definition of a synonym and review why they are important in writing and building vocabulary. We will also look at some examples and note where you could apply them in your own writing.

What Is a Synonym?

Synonyms are two different words that have the same, or very similar, meaning. They can be any part of speech (verb, adjective, adverb, noun, or preposition), as long as both words are the same part of speech. This means that they would both have to be nouns or both have to be verbs.

Why Are Synonyms Important?

In writing, it is important that you keep your audience engaged in your work. Think about your own experiences reading essays, novels, or articles. What made the writing interesting? The content may draw us in, but it is the language and word choices that keep us reading. If a writer repeatedly uses the same word to describe or to show action, it becomes boring. However, if the writer uses many different words, the variety becomes more descriptive.

In addition to improving your writing, synonyms are important to build a larger vocabulary. You want to be able to read and understand. The more that you read, the larger your vocabulary will become. Learning synonyms for different words is one way to become more knowledgeable.

Finally, synonyms are important so you can think of things in new ways. You want to be able to express yourself the best way you can, and this can be achieved by choosing the best word to describe the situation or person.

How to Find Synonyms

The easiest way to find a synonym is to use a thesaurus. These can be found in print, online, or even through your computer software. Another way to find synonyms is to read more. As mentioned earlier, the more that you read, the more vocabulary to which you will be exposed. It will give you new ideas of words to use in your own writing. When choosing a synonym, it is important to consider the connotation, which is the general idea or feeling that the word invokes in addition to its literal meaning, to be sure you are keeping the same overall meaning in the sentence.

Examples of Synonyms

College: university, school, academy, institution

Restaurant: cafeteria, bistro, café

Beautiful: pretty, lovely, attractive

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