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A. Background of study
Synonymy refers to a situation where a language has two (or more) linguistic
forms for expressing one meaning. Synonymy is byno means uncommon in languages,
exemplified also by the large number of synonym dictionaries and thesauri. However, it
is important to note that the existence or lack of synonymy is largely a matter of
definition. On one hand, if we define synonymy as (very close) semantic similarity or
(essentially) identical reference, it definitely exists to some extent in all languages. On
the other hand,if we confine the notion to absolute synonymy (comprising not only
reference, but also, for example, stylistic and sociolinguistic factors as well as contextual
preferences), it becomes less clear whether synonymy really exists.
The semantic qualities or sense relations that exist between words (lexemes) with
closely related meanings (i.e., synonyms). Plural: synonymies. Contrast with antonym.
Synonymy may also refer to the study of synonyms or to a list of synonyms. In the words
of Dagmar Divjak, near-synonymy (the relationship between different lexemes that
express similar meanings) is "a fundamental phenomenon that influences the structure of
our lexical knowledge" (Structuring the Lexicon, 2010).
So, synonymy in semantics it means that synonymyis a central interest for both
the semanticist and the language learner. synonymy is an important member of the
theoretical set of logical relations existing in language.
B. Formulation of study
1. What does synonymy is?
2. What the productivity of synonymy?

3. What the types of synonymy?

C. Purpose of study
1. To know definition of synonymy
2. To know the productivity of synonymy
3. To know the types of synonymy


A. Definition of synonymy
A synonym (also metonym and poecilonym) is a word with the same or similar
meaning of another word. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state
of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greeksyn ()
("with") and onoma () ("name"). Examples of synonyms are the words begin and
commence. Likewise, if we talk about a long time or an extended time, long and extended
become synonyms. In the figurative sense, two words are often said to be synonymous if they
have the same connotation a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another
word in certain contexts.
Adjective: synonymous. Contrast with antonym.Synonymy is the sense relation that
exists between words with closely related meanings.Although the notion of synonymy has
been regarded in the past two decades as one of the most significant linguistic phenomena
that influenced the structure of the lexicon, not much attention has been paid to this notion in
the fields of lexicography, psychology or even computational linguistics (Edmonds and Hirst
Whatever the reason, whether it be philosophical, practical or of expedience,
synonymy was thought of as a non-problematic issue in linguistics or translation, because we
have either synonyms with meanings that are completely identical and hence easy to deal
with, or we have non-synonyms, in which case they can be treated as just different words
(ibid: 106). The notion of near-synonyms, Edmonds and Hirstargue, shows that it is just as
complex as the notion of polysemy, and that it inherently affects the structure of the lexical

So what is this notion that is called synonymy? Synonymy is a kind of semantic

relation among words. Technically, it occurs when two or more linguistic forms are used to
substitute one another in any context in which their common meaning is not affected
denotatively or connotatively. For example, words such as healthy and well, sick and ill,
quickly and speedily, quickly and rapidly may be viewedasexamples of synonymy, simply
because they share most of the characteristics with one another.
Synonyms can be any part of speech (such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs or
prepositions), as long as both words belong to the same part of speech. Here are more
examples of English synonyms:

o buy and purchase

o big and large

o quickly and speedly

o on and upon
Note that synonyms are defined with respect to certain senses of words; for
instance, pupil as the aperture in the iris of the eye is not synonymous with student.
Likewise, he expired means the same as he died, yet my passport has expired cannot be
replaced by my passport has died.

Synonymy: words that have the same meanings or that are closely related in meaning
E.g. answer/reply almost/nearly broad/wide buy/purchase freedom/ liberty
sameness is not total sameness- only one word would be appropriate in a sentence.
E.g. Sandy only had one answer correct on the test. (but NOT reply)
Synonyms differ in formality
E.g buy/purchase automobile/car

In English, many synonyms emerged in the Middle Ages, after the Norman
conquest of England. While England's new ruling class spoke Norman French, the lower
classes continued to speak Old English (Anglo-Saxon). Thus, today we have synonyms
like the Norman-derived people, liberty and archer, and the Saxon-derived folk, freedom
and bowman. For more examples, see the list of Germanic and Latinate equivalents in
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, etc. 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.The
purpose of a thesaurus is to offer the user a listing of similar or related words; these are
often, but not always, synonyms.
B. The productivity of synonymy
"The productivity of synonymy is clearly observable. If we invent a new word
that represents (to some extent) the same thing that an existing word in the language
represents, then the new word is automatically a synonym of the older word. For

example, every time a new slang term meaning 'automobile' is invented, a synonym
relation is predicted for the new slang term (say, ride) and the standard and slang terms
that already exist (car, auto, wheels, etc.). Ride does not need to be inducted as a member
of the synonym set--no one has to say 'ride means the same thing as car' in order for the
synonym relation to be understood. All that must happen is that ride must be used and
understood to mean the same thing as car--as in My new ride is a Honda."
(M. Lynne Murphy, Semantic Relations and the Lexicon. Cambridge University Press,
There is a certain skill involved in choosing the most appropriate synonym, as not
all are created equal. It is important to consider the connotation of the word because some
synonyms can inject a different meaning than the one intended.
For example, one synonym of sad is "gloomy" however; this word carries quite a
negative connotation. Depending on the circumstance you can use it, but if you just want
to say that someone is "down," then another synonym such as "blue" or "unhappy" would
be more applicable.
Here is a list of adjectives and their synonyms that are commonly used to describe

Beautiful: Attractive, Pretty, Lovely, Stunning

Fair: Just, Objective, Impartial, Unbiased

Funny: Humorous, Comical, Hilarious, Hysterical

Happy: Content, Joyful, Mirthful, Upbeat

Hardworking: Diligent, Determined, Industrious, Enterprising

Honest: Honorable, Fair, Sincere, Trustworthy

Intelligent: Smart, Bright, Brilliant, Sharp

Introverted: Shy, Bashful, Quiet, Withdrawn

Kind:Thoughtful, Considerate, Amiable, Gracious

Lazy: Idle, Lackadaisical, Lethargic, Indolent

Mean: Unfriendly, Unpleasant, Bad-tempered, Difficult

Outgoing: Friendly, Sociable, Warm, Extroverted

Rich: Affluent, Wealthy, Well-off, Well-to-do

Strong: Stable, Secure, Solid, Tough

Unhappy: Sad, Depressed, Melancholy, Miserable

Lucky: Auspicious, Fortunate

Positive: Optimistic, Cheerful, Starry-eyed, Sanguine

Bossy: Controlling, Tyrannical

Here are some miscellaneous words and their synonyms:

Baffle: confuse, deceive

Hypocrisy: duplicity, falseness

Pacify: appease, placate

Recalcitrant: obstinate, stubborn

Turbulent: disordered, violent

Valid: authorized, legitimate

Old: antiquated, ancient, obsolete, extinct, past, prehistoric, venerable, aged

True: genuine, reliable, factual, accurate, precise, correct, valid, real

Important: required, substantial, vital, essential, primary, significant, requisite, critical

Weak: frail, anemic, feeble, infirm, languid, sluggish, puny, fragile

C. Types of synonymy
Since many linguists believe that true or complete synonymy does not exist in any
language (Quine 1951; Cruse 1986:270), attempts were made to classify synonymy into
types. According to Quine (1951), there are two kinds of synonymy: complete synonymy
and partial synonymy. Complete synonymy is regarded as words having identical
meaning components. In more specific terms, words are complete synonyms if and only
if they share all ingredients with one another.
According to Quine, this kind of synonymy does not exist simply because it is
impossible to define, and the meanings of words in monolingual or multilingual settings
are constantly changing. Therefore, words may share most of the constituents with one
another, but not all the constituents. As for partial synonymy, it is when words share most
of the necessary components or constituents. For example, the words finish and terminate
may share most of the characteristics with one another, but they are still different in some
respects. The word finish suggests the final stage of doing something, whereas terminate
suggests reaching a limit. It may suggest an end to a previous formal rendezvous. Since
complete synonymy does not exist in monolingual settings, let alone across languages,
partial synonymy has been emphasized. This dichotomy between complete and partial
synonymy has added salt to injury in dealing with the notion of equivalence in translation
or whether or not translation is a form of synonymy.
Based on the above discussion, I believe there is clear confusion as to what
constitutes synonymy. That is, some treat synonymy as words sharing several

characteristics with one another (Nida 1969: 73). Others suggest that this is regarded as a
form of partial synonymy (Edmonds and Hirst 2002:107). I would like to suggest here
that in order to be reasonable and clear, synonymy should be classified as follows:

Classifications of Synonymy
The above diagram shows that, for two words to be synonymous, they have to be
identical and share all essential components and thus capable of being used to substitute
one another in all contexts without any noticeable difference in their meanings. This kind
of synonymy does not exist, without any doubt, between two text versions of the same
language or source texts, let alone texts across languages.

A. Conclusion
A synonym (also metonym and poecilonym) is a word with the same or similar
meaning of another word. Synonymy is a kind of semantic relation among words.
Technically, it occurs when two or more linguistic forms are used to substitute one another in

any context in which their common meaning is not affected denotatively or connotatively.
For example, words such as healthy and well, sick and ill, quickly and speedily, quickly and
rapidly may be view the examples of synonymy, simply because they share most of the
characteristics with one another.