What Are Synonyms? (with Examples)

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What Are Synonyms? (with Examples)

A synonym is a word or phrase that can be substituted for another word or phrase in a particular context. For example, happy is a synonym of glad. We can say that happy and glad are synonymous.

Examples of Synonyms

Here are some more examples of synonyms (shaded):
  • He studied law at Oxford.
  • He read law at Oxford.
  • (In this context, the verbs to study and to read are synonyms.)

  • She is an excellent student.
  • She is a strong student.
  • (In this context, the adjectives excellent and strong are synonyms.)

  • She is a real Picasso.
  • She is a great artist .
  • (In this context, the phrases are synonyms.)

Context Is Important When Considering Synonyms

Words which are synonyms in one context might not be synonyms in another. For example:
  • He was studying in the kitchen.
  • He was reading in the kitchen.
  • (In this context, the meanings of to study and to read are not close enough to be synonyms.)

  • This is an excellent cheese.
  • This is a strong cheese.
  • (In this context, excellent and strong are not synonyms.)

Synonyms Can Be Any Part of Speech

Synonyms can be any part of speech. For example:

  • The reason is unimportant.
  • The reason is irrelevant.
  • He eats fast.
  • He eats quickly.
  • I should tell her as she is my sister.
  • I should tell her because she is my sister.
  • (Note: These are known as subordinating conjunctions.
  • Yes, Captain.
  • Aye, Captain.
  • Shall I take the dogs?
  • Shall I take the mutts?
  • Upon arrival, take a ticket.
  • On arrival, take a ticket.
  • I'll show you my yacht. She is a beauty.
  • I'll show you my yacht. It is a beauty.
  • I need to contemplate the consequences.
  • I need to consider the consequences.