21 Words That People Think Are Synonyms, But They Are Actually Not.

Let me let you on a little secrete. No two words mean exactly the same thing. You might, at first glance, think that the adjectives “hard” and “difficult” are perfect synonyms, but they’re not. I know you don’t believe this but a little example will help. Can we swap these adjectives in an example like “hard surface” and still maintain the same meaning? “Difficult surface” sounds so wrong that it triggered all the linguistic filters in my brain. This is why it is well established that perfect synonymy does not exist. And this is a good reason for you to be careful choosing your words. Just because the thesaurus lists two words as synonyms doesn’t mean that you can simply slot one in for the other. Here are the most common ones.


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10 thoughts on “21 Words That People Think Are Synonyms, But They Are Actually Not.”

  1. I’m surprised that there is little in the way of proofreading these posts considering the content.
    It spoils an otherwise interesting site.

  2. Maybe do a quick edit/update of the spelling mistake in point 21 but otherwise a great post. My students will find this interesting. To be honest, as a Brit, I didn’t realise there was a difference between CV and Resume. I thought they were the same. Is a Resume limited to one page? A CV can be longer.

  3. Interesting, but whoever writes these should be more careful when typing. eg specail should be special

  4. This would be a bit more credible if the words were spelled correctly. Secrete? Specail?

  5. Uninterested: having no desire to hear or partake of something

    Disinterested: having no stake in something (‘selfless’ is a synonym)

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