1. General characeristics of synonymy
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. The word comes from Ancient Greeksyn (σύν) ("with") and onoma (ὄνομα) ("name"). 

An example of synonyms are the words beginstartcommence, and initiate. Words can be synonymous when meant in certain senses, even if they are not synonymous in all of their senses. For example, if we talk about along time or an extended timelong and extended are synonymous within that context. Synonyms with exact interchangeability share a seme or denotational sememe, whereas those with inexactly similar meanings share a broader denotational or connotational sememeand thus overlap within a semantic field. Some academics call the former type cognitive synonyms to distinguish them from the latter type, which they call near-synonyms.
In the figurative sense, two words are sometimes said to be synonymous if they have the same connotation:
...a widespread impression that ... Hollywood was synonymous with immorality...

Metonymy can sometimes be a form of synonymy, as when, for example, the White House is used as a synonym of the administrationin 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, and hyponymy and hypernymy is vital 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 and schema.

Synonyms can be any part of speech (such as nounsverbsadjectivesadverbs or prepositions), as long as both words belong to the same part of speech. Examples:

buy and purchase

big and large
quickly and speedily

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. Such like, he expired means the same as he died, yet my passport has expired cannot be replaced bymy passport has died.

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 peopleliberty and archer, and the Saxon-derived folkfreedom and bowman. For more examples, see the list of Germanic and Latinate equivalents in English.

Some lexicographers claim that no synonyms have exactly the same meaning (in all contexts or social levels of language) because etymologyorthography, 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 catlong 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.

2. Types of synonyms (Cruse, Arnold, Molchova)

Synonyms approached in two ways:
Necessary resemblances and permissible differences and
Contextually by means of diagnostic frames

Alsatian and spaniel have common semantic components but they are not synonyms. In other words, synonyms must not only manifest a high degree of semantic overlap, they must also have a low degree of implicit contrastiveness.

Synonyms are lexical items whose meanings are identical in respect of ‘central’ semantic components but differ, if at all, in respect of their ‘minor’ or ‘peripheral’ components.
Cruse discusses synonyms in terms of pairs. Within the class of synonyms some pairs are more synonymous than others, that is, they do not form one homogeneous whole. Rather, they form a scale.

Absolute synonymy
Two words are absolute synonyms if they are interchangeable in all contexts. Absolute synonymy is rare.

Cognitive Synonymy
Cognitive synonyms explained in terms of semantic components

Cognitive meaning


Cognitive meaning

Expressive meaning


mother and mum, infant and baby, continue and go on, jolly and very
w cognitive synonyms behave in sentences
X is a cognitive synonym of Y if (1) X and Y are syntactically identical and (2) any grammatical declarative sentence S containing X has equivalent truth-conditions to another sentence, S’, which is identical to S except that X is replaced by Y.

Her father came into the room.
Her daddy came into the room. 
We convey information in two types of modes: propositional and expressive mode
I just felt a sudden sharp pain – in the propositional mode
Declarative sentences express complete propositions
Imperative and interrogative sentences express incomplete propositions
Semantics studies the meaning of declarative sentences only
Pragmatics studies the meaning of all sentence types
Ouch! – the same information expressed in the expressive mode
Classification of the vocabulary in English in terms of expressive meaning
1) Expletives - Gosh! Wow! Bother! Ace! I’ll say!
Get that damn dog off my seat.
Get that dog off my seat.
Damn has no effect on the meaning of the sentence.
Already, still and yet – the same as damn
He has already arrived.                     He has arrived.
He is still here.                                               He is here.
He hasn’t arrived yet.                        He hasn’t arrived.
2) Words whose meaning contains both cognitive and semantic componentsdaddy and mummy
3) Words that have an expressive capacity but it may or may not be manifested depending on the context, e.g. baby
Mother and baby are progressing satisfactorily.
The baby was born prematurely.
In this context baby has no expressive traits
Oh, look – a baby! Isn’t she adorable?
3) Words incapable of conveying expressive meaning, e.g. infant, neonate
Plesionyms – if we replace one plesionym with the other, the replacement changes the meaning of the sentence.
1. it wasn’t foggy last Friday – just misty.
2. You did not thrash us at badminton – but I admit you beat us.
3. He is by no means fearless, but he’s extremely brave.
4. She isn’t pretty, but in her way she is quite handsome.
5.  The loch we were fishing is not a lake – it’s open to the sea.

Arnold on synonyms, The English Word
“Synonyms are defined as two or more words of the same language, belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings interchangeable at least in some contexts without considerable alteration in denotational meaning, but differing in morphemic composition, phonetic shape, shades of meaning, connotations, affective value, style, valency and idiomatic use”.
A group of synonyms: experience, undergo, sustain and suffer – all mean experiencing something
to experience – actual living through sth. and coming to know it first hand;
to undergo – what someone or something bears or is subjected to;
to sustain – undergoing affliction without giving way;
to suffer – implies ‘wrong’ or ‘injury’.
hope, expectation, anticipation – having something in  ind which is going to happen
hope -  a belief and a desire that an event will occur;
expectation – connote both good and evil;
anticipation – something good will occur, connotes pleasure.

Native words              Words from Fr.                      Words from Lat.
to ask                          to question                              to interrogate
belly                            stomach                                 abdomen
to gather                     to assemble                            to collect
empty                         devoid                                     vacuous
to end                         to finish                                   to complete
to rise                          to mount                                 to ascend
to teach                      to guide                                  to instruct

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