Synonym vs. Thesaurus

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Synonym and Thesaurus is that the Synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language and Thesaurus is a reference work that lists words grouped together according to similarity of meaning.

  • Synonym

    A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. For example, the words begin, start, commence, and initiate are all synonyms of one another. Words are typically synonymous in one particular sense: for example, long and extended in the context long time or extended time are synonymous, but long cannot be used in the phrase extended family. Synonyms with the exact same meaning share a seme or denotational sememe, whereas those with inexactly similar meanings share a broader denotational or connotational sememe and thus overlap within a semantic field. The former are sometimes called cognitive synonyms and the latter, near-synonyms.

    Some lexicographers claim that no synonyms have exactly the same meaning (in all contexts or social levels of language) because etymology, orthography, phonic qualities, ambiguous meanings, usage, and so on make them unique. Different words that are similar in meaning usually differ for a reason: feline is more formal than cat; long and extended are only synonyms in one usage and not in others (for example, a long arm is not the same as an extended arm). Synonyms are also a source of euphemisms.

    Metonymy can sometimes be a form of synonymy: the White House is used as a synonym of the administration in referring to the U.S. executive branch under a specific president. Thus a metonym is a type of synonym, and the word metonym is a hyponym of the word synonym.

    The analysis of synonymy, polysemy, hyponymy, and hypernymy is inherent to taxonomy and ontology in the information-science senses of those terms. It has applications in pedagogy and machine learning, because they rely on word-sense disambiguation.

  • Thesaurus

    In general usage, a thesaurus is a reference work that lists words grouped together according to similarity of meaning (containing synonyms and sometimes antonyms), in contrast to a dictionary, which provides definitions for words, and generally lists them in alphabetical order. The main purpose of such reference works for users “to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed” – to quote Peter Mark Roget, architect of the best known thesaurus in the English language.Although including synonyms, a thesaurus should not be taken as a complete list of all the synonyms for a particular word. The entries are also designed for drawing distinctions between similar words and assisting in choosing exactly the right word. Unlike a dictionary, a thesaurus entry does not give the definition of words.

    In library science and information science, thesauri have been widely used to specify domain models. Recently, thesauri have been implemented with Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS).

  • Synonym (noun)

    A word whose meaning is the same as that of another word.



  • Synonym (noun)

    A word or phrase with a meaning that is the same as, or very similar to, another word or phrase.

    ““Happy” is a synonym of “glad”.”

  • Synonym (noun)

    Any of the formal names for a taxon, including the valid name (i.e. the senior synonym).

  • Synonym (noun)

    Any name for a taxon, usually a validly published, formally accepted one, but often also an unpublished name.

  • Synonym (noun)

    An alternative (often shorter) name defined for an object in a database.

  • Thesaurus (noun)

    A publication, usually in the form of a book, that provides synonyms (and sometimes antonyms) for the words of a given language.

    “”Roget” is the leading brand name for a print English thesaurus that lists words under general concepts rather than just close synonyms.”

  • Thesaurus (noun)

    A dictionary or encyclopedia.

  • Thesaurus (noun)

    A hierarchy of subject headings — canonic titles of themes and topics, the titles serving as search keys.

  • Synonym (noun)

    a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close

    “‘the East’ was a synonym for the Soviet empire”

    “‘shut’ is a synonym of ‘close’”

  • Synonym (noun)

    a person or thing so closely associated with a particular quality or idea that the mention of their name calls it to mind

    “the Victorian age is a synonym for sexual puritanism”

  • Synonym (noun)

    a taxonomic name which has the same application as another, especially one which has been superseded and is no longer valid.

  • Thesaurus (noun)

    a book that lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts.

  • Thesaurus (noun)

    a dictionary or encyclopedia.

Oxford Dictionary

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