Synonyms Definition And Classification Essay

Antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms are three sources of concern in classrooms. They can be confusing, so it's good to get a hang of them early. These words can add a lot of variety to speech and writing.  Once you understand how each is used, you will be able to overcome many challenges in spelling and vocabulary.

Interrelationship of Words

When you're learning words, there can't help but be spots where things get a little murky. English vocabulary is especially full of pitfalls since the language is so vast. In English, there are several words that share one meaning or nuances of one meaning. Then there are tiny words like "set" and "get" that have so many meanings that their definitions take up multiple dictionary pages. Then, just to make it more daunting, the English language has over a million words. As far as word banks go, English is massive.
But don't let the enormousness of the language turn you off. Homonyms, antonyms, and synonyms can be used to learn new words and add a great deal to your diction and the way you talk about language in particular.

Knowing which words are similar or opposites helps people understand the same when it comes to ideas. Ideas are impossible without words, and words are impossible without ideas. The more you think about the interrelationship of one, the better you are able to think about the interrelationship of the other.

Antonyms

Antonyms are words that mean the opposite of other words. They are used to show a contrast between two things. The antonym of "big" is "small," for example. Some other examples of antonyms are full / empty, fail / succeed, and liquid / solid.
The English language also lets its speakers make antonyms just by adding a prefix. The following are examples of how prefixes can be affixed to some words to create antonyms.

  • Un: Official becomes unofficial. Dress becomes undress.
  • In: Flexible becomes inflexible. Complete becomes incomplete.
  • Im: Possible becomes impossible. Polite becomes impolite.
  • Ir: Rational becomes irrational. Regular becomes irregular.
  • Dis: Honest becomes dishonest. Advantage becomes disadvantage.
  • Il: Logical becomes illogical. Legal becomes illegal.
  • Mis: Fortune becomes misfortune. Behave becomes misbehave.

Keep in mind that adding a prefix does not always make the word an antonym. For example, flammable and inflammable are not opposites. They mean the same thing and are synonyms. There are always exceptions to the rules in the English language and some things just have to be learned through usage.

Synonyms

Synonyms are words that share meanings with other words. They are used to add variety to writing and speech and allow you to avoid repetition. The words amazing, astounding, and marvelous are all synonyms. Their meanings are similar and can be interchanged with one another. Another set of synonyms are big, large, and huge.

There are many reasons why synonyms are great. Here are three:

  • They make it possible for writers to create a certain mood with their subtle differences. "Walk" sets a different pace than "saunter," and "drink" implies a different style than "guzzle." The differences are implied by the word selected, and when a writer is trying to paint a picture in a reader's mind, those differences can make or break a writer's prose.
  • They give writers more rhythmic tools. "Absquatulate" means the same as "abscond," but they are rhythmically very different. Every serious writer thinks about the rhythm of what he or she produces. Synonyms give writers more control over that rhythm.
  • They sound fancy. Sometimes knowing a better-sounding word makes you sound intelligent, like choosing "utilize" instead of "use," but remember that a little of this goes a long way. If you don't want to use fancy synonyms, you should at least be able to know when someone else is. People may use argot that isn't immediately understandable, but if you know a lot of synonyms, you should never be lost. Plus, if someone fails to comprehend your own jargon, you can use a synonym they know to get your point across.

Once you have an arsenal of synonyms at your disposal, you can work on the tone of your writing and see how it is changed by saying, for example, "discharging a firearm" instead of "firing a gun," or "disenfranchised youths" for "kids without voices."

Homonyms

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings. Because these words sound and look the same but mean something different they can be the source of entertainment, confusion, or even inspiration. 

Some common homonyms:

  • Address can be a property location or it can be a manner of speaking to a group of people.
  • Bat can be an implement used to hit a ball or it can be a nocturnal flying mammal.
  • Bear can be an animal or it can mean to tolerate something or someone
  • Fire can mean a blaze or it can mean to terminate someone from a job.
  • Trip can mean to stumble or fall or it can mean to go on a vacation.
  • Watch can be a wearable timepiece or it can mean to look at something closely.

Expand Your Vocabulary

Learning antonyms, synonyms and homonyms can be tricky but having a few in your language belt will certainly help expand your vocabulary. Using a variety of these words will make your speech and writing more vivid and exciting, and can help you avoid being repetitive or stale.

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Antonyms, Synonyms and Homonyms

By YourDictionary

Antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms are three sources of concern in classrooms. They can be confusing, so it's good to get a hang of them early. These words can add a lot of variety to speech and writing.  Once you understand how each is used, you will be able to overcome many challenges in spelling and vocabulary.

As you work with your draft, you will want to pay particular attention to the words you have chosen. Do they express exactly what you are trying to convey? Can you choose better, more effective words? Familiarity with synonyms and antonyms can be helpful in answering these questions.

Synonyms

Synonyms are words that have the same, or almost the same, meaning as another word. You can say an “easy task” or a “simple task” because easy and simple are synonyms. You can say Hong Kong is a “large city” or a “metropolis” because city and metropolis are synonyms.

However, it is important to remember that not all pairs of words in the English language are so easily interchangeable. The slight but important differences in meaning between synonyms can make a big difference in your writing. For example, the words boring and insipid may have similar meanings, but the subtle differences between the two will affect the message your writing conveys. The word insipid evokes a scholarly and perhaps more pretentious message than boring.

The English language is full of pairs of words that have subtle distinctions between them. All writers, professionals and beginners alike, face the challenge of choosing the most appropriate synonym to best convey their ideas. When you pay particular attention to synonyms in your writing, it comes across to your reader. The sentences become much more clear and rich in meaning.

Writing at Work

Any writing you do at work involves a careful choice of words. For example, if you are writing an e-mail to your employer regarding your earnings, you can use the word pay, salary, or hourly wage. There are also other synonyms to choose from. Just keep in mind that the word you choose will have an effect on the reader, so you want to choose wisely to get the desired effect.

Exercise 1

Replace the underlined words in the paragraph with appropriate synonyms. Write the new paragraph on your own sheet of paper.

When most people think of the Renaissance, they might think of artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, or Leonardo da Vinci, but they often overlook one of the very important figures of the Renaissance: Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi was born in Florence, Italy in 1377. He is considered the very best architect and engineer of the Renaissance. His impressive accomplishments are a testament to following one’s dreams, persevering in the face of obstacles, and realizing one’s vision.
The most difficult undertaking of Brunelleschi’s career was the dome of Florence Cathedral, which took sixteen years to construct. A major blow to the progress of the construction happened in 1428. Brunelleschi had designed a special ship to carry the one hundred tons of marble needed for the dome. He felt this would be the most inexpensive way to transport the marble, but the unthinkable happened. The ship went down to the bottom of the water, taking all the marble with it to the bottom of the river. Brunelleschi was really sad. Nevertheless, he did not give up. He held true to his vision of the completed dome. Filippo Brunelleschi completed construction of the dome of Florence Cathedral in 1446. His influence on artists and architects alike was felt strongly during his lifetime and can still be felt in this day and age.

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

Exercise 2

On your own sheet of paper, write a sentence with each of the following words that illustrates the specific meaning of each synonym.

  1. leave, abandon
  2. mad, insane
  3. outside, exterior
  4. poor, destitute
  5. quiet, peaceful
  6. riot, revolt
  7. rude, impolite
  8. talk, conversation
  9. hug, embrace
  10. home, residence

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

Antonyms

Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of a given word. The study of antonyms will not only help you choose the most appropriate word as you write; it will also sharpen your overall sense of language. Table 4.3 “Common Antonyms” lists common words and their antonyms.

Table 4.3 Common Antonyms

WordAntonymWordAntonym
absencepresencefrequentseldom
acceptrefuseharmfulharmless
accurateinaccuratehorizontalvertical
advantagedisadvantageimitationgenuine
ancientmoderninhabiteduninhabited
abundantscarceinferiorsuperior
artificialnaturalintentionalaccidental
attractiverepulsivejusticeinjustice
borrowlendknowledgeignorance
braverycowardicelandlordtenant
createdestroy, demolishlikelyunlikely
boldtimid, meekminoritymajority
capableincapablemiserspendthrift
combineseparateobedientdisobedient
concealrevealoptimistpessimist
commonrarepermanenttemporary
decreaseincreaseplentifulscarce
definiteindefiniteprivatepublic
despairhopeprudentimprudent
discourageencouragequalifiedunqualified
employeremployeesatisfactoryunsatisfactory
expandcontracttamewild
forgetremembervacantoccupied

Tip

Learning antonyms is an effective way to increase your vocabulary. Memorizing words in combination with or in relation to other words often helps us retain them.

Exercise 3

Correct the following sentences by replacing the underlined words with an antonym. Write the antonym on your own sheet of paper.

  1. The pilot who landed the plane was a coward because no one was injured.
  2. Even though the botany lecture was two hours long, Gerard found it incredibly dull.
  3. My mother says it is impolite to say thank you like you really mean it.
  4. Although I have learned a lot of information through textbooks, it is life experience that has given me ignorance.
  5. When our instructor said the final paper was compulsory, it was music to my ears!
  6. My only virtues are coffee, video games, and really loud music.
  7. Elvin was so bold when he walked in the classroom that he sat in the back row and did not participate.
  8. Maria thinks elephants who live in freedom have a sad look in their eyes.
  9. The teacher filled her students’ minds with gloomy thoughts about their futures.
  10. The guest attended to every one of our needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Synonyms are words that have the same, or almost the same, meaning as another word.
  • Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of another word.
  • Choosing the right synonym refines your writing.
  • Learning common antonyms sharpens your sense of language and expands your vocabulary.

Writing Application

Write a paragraph that describes your favorite dish or food. Use as many synonyms as you can in the description, even if it seems too many. Be creative. Consult a thesaurus, and take this opportunity to use words you have never used before. Be prepared to share your paragraph.

This is a derivative of Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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