Synonyms refers to a pair of words that have the same meaning, or nearly the same meaning. This is the opposite of antonyms, which are a pair of words that have opposite meanings.
Understanding synonyms helps when you want to avoid using the same word over and over, or when you want to ensure that your word is the most precise word to describe your meaning. For example, "walk" is generic and not descriptive, but "amble" or "strut" or "shuffle" are synonyms for walk that give a better picture of how the person moved.
It is important to think about the connotation of a word when you choose to use it as a synonym for another word. Connotation is the feelings and associations that we have related to a specific word. For example, "strut" gives the impression that the person who is walking is proud and arrogant. If you use "glide" instead, it gives the impression that the person who is walking is graceful. Synonyms can help you to better describe what is happening, and they also help the reader to make certain associations based on your word choice.
Examples of Synonyms
Happy: thrilled, joyful, ecstatic, enthusiastic
Sad: depressed, gloomy, dejected
Run: sprint, race, streaked, trotted
Smart: brilliant, intelligent, clever, shrewd
Big: gigantic, large, enormous, giant
Little: tiny, small, miniscule, petite
Pretty: handsome, cute, lovely, beautiful
Loud: noisy, shrill, earsplitting, deafening
Said: mumbled, yelled, cried, replied, spoke
Examples of How Synonyms Change Connotation of a Sentence
a. Joseph said that he wasn't angry at Jeff for taking his book.
b. Joseph claimed that he wasn't angry at Jeff for taking his book.
c. Joseph mumbled that he wasn't angry at Jeff for taking his book.
d. Joseph assured us that he wasn't angry at Jeff for taking his book.
a. Elizabeth said that Joan's dress was pretty.
b. Elizabeth said that Joan's dress was exquisite.
c. Elizabeth said that Joan's dress was cute.
d. Elizabeth said that Joan's dress was sweet.