What do these instructions mean: “clean a kettlebell to the racked position”? They have nothing to do with polishing the kitchen copper. They also don’t relate to hanging heavy items in church towers.
In fact, these instructions are the first step of various exercises you can perform with a heavy metal ball with a handle (a kettlebell). Searching for the phrase will dig up plenty of instructional videos showing you how this is done.
Usually, a key guideline for writing digital copy is to use simple language: familiar words and short sentences. To reach a broad consumer audience, write at an 8th grade reading level. But what if you’re not targeting everybody, but have a narrow audience for your, say, B2B site? In that case the advice changes.
Simple Writing for Advanced Readers
Even for specialized audiences it’s still best to write as simple as possible. Even highly educated people don’t want to struggle to read your site. You do not impress anybody by spouting highfalutin words or complex sentence structures that require careful parsing. People don’t pay close attention to web content.
In particular, users take around 10 seconds to decide whether a web page is worth their time at all. So if you can’t communicate your key point quickly, you won’t get any message across, because the user will have left the building.
Targeted Writing for Expert Readers
But simple writing for a group of engineers or physicians is not the same as simple writing for a group of applicants for unemployment insurance. First, when you write for a specialized group that includes people with higher education levels, you can allow yourself a somewhat higher reading level, while still keeping it a good deal below the target audience’s actual education level. For example, we typically write our articles around a 12th-grade reading level (i.e., high-school graduates) even though almost all our readers have college degrees. The article you’re reading right now would be annoyingly difficult for many low-end consumers, but it’s reasonably easy reading for you (I hope).
Second, don’t restrict yourself to familiar words. Specialized words often make text easier to understand when they’re the right terminology for the audience. Take my example of cleaning a kettlebell. If you’re targeting fitness enthusiasts, it would be horrible to employ a circumlocution like “use one hand to grab the heavy metal ball by the handle and swing it up until it rests against your forearm.” While each of these individual words are more commonly used in everyday language, the full instruction isn’t precise enough to indicate exactly what should be done. Also, somebody who trains with kettlebells would refer to them as such, and not as “a heavy metal ball with a handle.”
Jargon has a bad reputation in communications circles: in fact, a thesaurus suggests “waffle”, “gobbledygook”, “guff”, and “mumbo jumbo” as possible substitutes. But that’s because jargon obscures the message for readers outside a field. For professionals, enthusiasts, hobbyists, or others who specialize in a field, using that field’s jargon improves communication. Furthermore, using appropriate language defines you as a fellow insider.
Specialized language is not only more concise but also clearer, as long as the reader is a specialist who understands the terminology. If you’re writing for beginners or trainees, it’s certainly best to define any specialized terms you’re using.
A huge benefit from using specialized words is that they vastly improve SEO since your target audience is likely to employ these same terms in queries. In fact, a search for “swing heavy metal ball” finds pages about wrecking balls, not exercise videos.
Don’t go overboard and stuff your web copy with complex terms. Definitely don’t make anything more complicated than it has to be. Skilled users still prefer easy sites. But it’s always been a basic usability guideline to “speak the user’s language.” So to the extent that your readers are specialists who use a specialized vocabulary, do use those same words when writing for that audience.
This article is about the general meaning of "synonym". For other uses, see Synonym (disambiguation).
A 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. For example, the words begin, start, commence, and initiate are all synonyms of one another. Words are typically synonymous in one particular sense: for example, long and extended in the contextlong time or extended time are synonymous, but long cannot be used in the phrase extended family. Synonyms with the exact same meaning share a seme or denotational sememe, whereas those with inexactly similar meanings share a broader denotational or connotational sememe and thus overlap within a semantic field. The former are sometimes called cognitive synonyms and the latter, near-synonyms.
Some lexicographers claim that no synonyms have exactly the same meaning (in all contexts or social levels of language) because etymology, orthography, phonic qualities, ambiguous meanings, usage, and so on make them unique. Different words that are similar in meaning usually differ for a reason: feline is more formal than cat; long 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.
Metonymy can sometimes be a form of synonymy: the White House is used as a synonym of the administration in 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, hyponymy, and hypernymy is inherent 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.
The word comes from Ancient Greeksýn (σύν; "with") and ónoma (ὄνομα; "name").
Synonyms can be any part of speech, as long as both words belong to the same part of speech. Examples:
Synonyms are defined with respect to certain senses of words: 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 by my 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 people, liberty and archer, and the Saxon-derived folk, freedom and bowman. For more examples, see the list of Germanic and Latinate equivalents in English.
A thesaurus lists similar or related words; these are often, but not always, synonyms.
- The word poecilonym is a rare synonym of the word synonym. It is not entered in most major dictionaries and is a curiosity or piece of trivia for being an autological word because of its meta quality as a synonym of synonym.
- Antonyms are words with opposite or nearly opposite meanings. For example: hot ↔ cold, large ↔ small, thick ↔ thin, synonym ↔ antonym
- Hypernyms and hyponyms are words that refer to, respectively, a general category and a specific instance of that category. For example, vehicle is a hypernym of car, and car is a hyponym of vehicle.
- Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but different meanings. For example, witch and which are homophones in most accents (because they are pronounced the same).
- Homographs are words that have the same spelling, but have different pronunciations. For example, one can record a song or keep a record of documents.
- Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation and spelling, but have different meanings. For example, rose (a type of flower) and rose (past tense of rise) are homonyms.
|Look up synonym in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Tools which graph words relations:
- Graph Words – Online tool for visualization word relations
- Synonyms.net – Online reference resource that provides instant synonyms and antonyms definitions including visualizations, voice pronunciations and translations
- English/French Semantic Atlas – Graph words relations in English, French and gives cross representations for translations – offers 500 searches per user per day.
Plain words synonyms finder:
- Synonym Finder – Synonym finder including hypernyms in search result
- Thesaurus – Online synonyms in English, Italian, French and German
- Woxikon Synonyms – Over 1 million synonyms – English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish and Dutch
- Power Thesaurus – Thesaurus with synonyms ordered by rating
- FindMeWords Synonyms – Online Synonym Dictionary with definitions