Synonyms are the words that are similar or nearly similar in meaning. A synonym, thus, has a literal meaning while its implied meaning may be different. Defining a synonym, the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English mentions – A synonym is a “word or phrase identical and coextensive in sense and usage with another of the same language”. Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English writes – A synonym is a “word denoting the same thing as another but suitable to different emphasis”.
As such, a synonym is a word or expression accepted as a figurative or symbolic substitute for another word or expression. In other words, we can say that a synonym is a word which has the same or almost the same meaning as that of another word in the same language.
It may, however, be noted that, except in rare cases, no two words are exact synonyms that are interchangeable in all the contexts in which either might appear. However, within a given context, there are often close synonyms. For example: teach, educate and instruct convey more or less same meanings and can be called synonyms though they slightly differ from one another, principally in degrees of abstraction.
Hence words which are synonymous in one of their meanings may differ considerably in their other meanings.
COMMIT TO MEMORY
There are certain points which we should remember while choosing a synonym.
* A synonym should be in the same Part of Speech in which the given word is.
* A synonym, as mentioned above, may have a literal meaning and another an implied meaning. So, we should not choose a synonym blindly but be careful whether we have chosen the right word on the basis of the information given in the context.
* Sometimes, the examiners include an antonym in the alternative choices given for the answer of that synonym. Hence, we must be very cautious in choosing a synonym.
MIND MAP OF CHOOSING A SYNONYM
We come to know the brain storming scene of choosing a synonym if we observe the following mind map. The word ‘question’ is the entry for choosing a synonym in the context. The detailed explanation in regard to the selection of the right synonym in the context is offered there under the mind map.
Main Entry : question
Part of Speech: noun
Definition : issue, point at issue
Synonyms : discussion, motion, point, problem, proposal, proposition, subject, theme, topic
Antonyms : agreement
Main Entry : question
Part of Speech :verb
Definition : ask for answer
Synonyms : ask about, catechize, challenge, cross-examine, enquire, examine, give the third degree, go over, grill, hit up, hit*, hold out for, inquire, interrogate, interview, investigate, knock*, make inquiry, petition, pick one's brains, probe, pry, pump, put through the wringer, put to the question, query, quest, quiz, raise question, roast, search, seek, show curiosity, solicit, sound out, sweat it out of, work over
Antonyms : answer, reply ( Note: * = informal/non-formal usage)
Main Entry : question
Part of Speech : verb
Definition : doubt
Synonyms : call into question, cast doubt upon, challenge, controvert, disbelieve, dispute, distrust, hesitate, impeach, impugn, mistrust, oppose, puzzle over, query, suspect, suspicion, wonder about
Antonyms : certainty, doubtlessness, sureness, surety
FORMATS OF QUESTIONS ON SYNONYMS
* Choose the word/group of words which is most nearly the SAME in meaning as the word/group of words given in bold as used in the passage. (In this case, a word for choosing the synonym is taken from the passage meant for Reading Comprehension.)
e.g. tore out
1. came out gently
2. pushed out
3. walked out
4. rushed out forcefully
5. destroyed angrily
Ans. tore out : (4) rushed out forcefully
* In each of the following questions, out of the given alternatives, choose the one which best expresses the meaning of the given word.
Ans. ABNEGATION: (a) self-denial
* In each of the following questions, there are three words which are meanings of a certain
word. Select that word from the answer choices provided in each question.
e.g. everlasting, endless, unending
Ans. everlasting, endless, unending: (b) eternal
* In each of the following questions, there are four words marked a-d. While three of them are synonymous or have more or less same meaning, one is altogether different from the rest. Select from the answer choices the word which is different from the rest.
e.g. (a) witty (b) pleasant (c) comical (d) humorous
Ans. (b) pleasant
* In each of the following questions, four pairs of words are given, marked a-d. Each pair consists of two words which have more or less similar meaning. However, one pair consists of two words which are different in meaning, which you have to select as your answer.
e.g. (a) authentic/genuine (b) genius/aptitude (c) ghastly/crime (d) gruesome/grim
Ans. (c) ghastly/crime
* In each of the following questions, a sentence is given in which one word is printed in bold type. Under each sentence four alternatives, marked a-d are given. Your task is to select the word or expression from the alternatives which convey more or less same meaning as the word printed in bold type.
e.g. The U.N. coalition forces immediately went into action. (a) most powerful (b) faithful (c) temporary alliance (d) selective
Ans. (c) temporary alliance