Raise your hand if you've ever used a thesaurus, whether a book or online thesaurus. Many writers have expanded their vocabularies in this way, looking for words that are the same as others. But what's the term for that? Am I looking up antonyms, homonyms, or synonyms?
Let's cover the meanings antonyms, homonyms, and synonyms in this post.
Synonym vs. Antonym vs. Homonym
Synonym is when one of two or more words or phrases of the same language have a similar meaning. For instance, synonyms for the word angry include annoyed, cross, vexed, livid, irked, galled, and piqued. Conversely, synonyms for the word happy include content, merry, joyful, delighted, and jovial.
Antonym is a word of opposite meaning. For instance, angry would be an antonym of happy. Also, short is an antonym of tall, and small is an antonym of large.
Homonym, on the other hand, is one of two or more words that are spelled and pronounced the same but that have different meanings. So, the word "mean" can mean "average" in mathematics, "not nice" in personal relationships, and actually has several other meanings. Likewise, the word "rock" can refer to "a genre of music" or "a stone," and the word "address" can refer to "a location" or "to speak to."
A final note on synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms:
So how do we keep these terms straight in our minds? For me, I take the "s" from "synonym" to mean "same meaning" and the "a" from "antonym" to mean "anti-same meaning." This might be a bit of a stretch but I think of "homonym" as different meanings coming from the same "home word," both in spelling and pronunciation.
No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.