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I decided to include a definition of synonym here when I looked it up to confirm the meaning I thought it had and found it has some interesting nuances (of course, I now realize those interesting nuances came from a 1913 dictionary and are probably obsolete):

(I found these using KDict.)

This is the meaning that I am used to (from WordNet (r) 1.7):

Two words that can be interchanged in a context are said to be synonymous relative to that context [syn: equivalent word].

Or this (from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)):

One of two or more words (commonly words of the same language) which are equivalents of each other; one of two or more words which have very nearly the same signification, and therefore may often be used interchangeably. See under Synonymous.

The next two provide an interesting nuance on the meaning of synonym, which I suspect is outdated. (They are from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) -- I may have to check a modern dead tree dictionary.)

An incorrect or incorrectly applied scientific name, as a new name applied to a species or genus already properly named, or a specific name preoccupied by that of another species of the same genus; -- so used in the system of nomenclature (which see) in which the correct scientific names of certain natural groups (usually genera, species, and subspecies) are regarded as determined by priority.

All languages tend to clear themselves of synonyms as intellectual culture advances, the superfluous words being taken up and appropriated by new shades and combinations of thought evolved in the progress of society.
--De Quincey.

See AboutThesePages.

Contributors

  • () RandyKramer - 02 Oct 2002
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r1 - 2002-10-02 - RandyKramer
 
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