synonym (sĭnˈənĭm) [key] [Gr., = having the same name], word having a meaning that is the same as or very similar to the meaning of another word of the same language. Some are alike in some meanings only, as live and dwell. As a language develops, words that once were synonyms tend to become restricted so that eventually they differ in meaning or in usage (e.g., prostitute and strumpet, in which the latter is now confined to literary use). Words taken into English from French and Latin have created many synonyms, e.g., wax (taken from Old English), increase (taken from Old French), and augment (taken from Latin). The classic English synonym collections are George Crabb's Synonymes and P. M. Roget's Thesaurus.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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