Figure Name synonymia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Garrett Epp (1994) ("interpretatio," "synonymy"); Ad Herennium ("synonymy", "interpretation") (324); Ad Herennium 4.28.38 ("interpretatio"); Melanch. IR d1r ("interpretatio" "synonymia"); Melanch. ER D4v-E1r ("congeries" "synonymia"); Sherry (1550) 49 ("sinonimia," "nominis communio"); Peacham (1577) P4r; Putt. (1589) 223 ("sinonimia," "the figure of store"); Day 1599 91; JG Smith (1665) ("synonymia"); Vinsauf (1967) ("repetition (interpretatio, expolitio)"); Peacham 1593; Vinsauf (1967) ("interpretatio"); Holmes (1806) ("synonymy," "synonymia"); De Mille (1882); Waddy (1889); Bullinger (1898) ("synonymia; or, synonymous words"); Norwood (1742) ("synonymia"); Kellog (1880) ("synonyms")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms interpretatio, nominis communio, synonymy, the figure of store, the interpreter, synonimia, synonymous words
Etymology from Gk. syn, "alike" and onoma, "name"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. In general, the use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds emotional force or intellectual clarity. Synonymia often occurs in parallel fashion.
The Latin synonym, interpretatio, suggests the expository and rational nature of this figure, while another Greek synonym, congeries, suggests the emotive possibilities of this figure. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Repetition of a single idea in synonymous words. (Garrett Epp)

3. Synonymy or Interpretation is the figure which does not duplicate the same word by repeating it, but replaces the word that has been used by another of the same meaning. (Ad Herennium)

4. A partaking together of a name; or divers words signifying one and the same thing: a figure when by change of words that are of like signification, one thing is reiterated divers times, &c.; SYNONYMIA, nominis communio, seu nomina diversa idem significantia, a partaking together of a name, or divers words signifying one and the same thing, whereof the latter is usually explanatory to the former: derived from, [syn] simul, together, and [onoma] nomen, a name or word. A Synonymie is a commodious heaping together of divers words of one signification. (Note in marg: This figure adorneth and garnisheth speech as a rich wardrobe, wherein are many and...) A figure when by a variation and change of words that are of like signification, one thing is iterated divers times. This kind of Elocution is to be used as often as we see not enough in one word evidently to signifie the dignity or magnitude of the thing mentioned. This figure and Palalogia, which signifies Repetition of the same word, are alike; and serves to amplifie and to excite vehement affection and passion, when from one thing many wayes expressed, we fasten many stings as it were in the minde of the hearer. (JG Smith)

5. If you choose an amplified form, proceed first of all by this step: althought the meaning is one, let it not come content with one set of apparel. Let it vary its robes and assume different raiment. Let it take up again in other words what has already been said; let it reiterate, in a number of clauses, a single thought. Let one and the same thing be concealed under multiple forms - be varied and yet the same. (Vinsauf)

6. Synonimia, when by a variation and change of words that be of like signification, we iterat one thing diverse times. (Peacham)

5. (Interpretatio) If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and have recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)

7. Synonymy doth divers words prepare, Yet each of them one meaning doth declare. (Holmes)

8. 185. SYNONYMIA.
Synonymia is a term applied to cases where several words or phrases of similar signification follow one another:
"Abiit, erupit, evasit." -Cicero.
"I am astonished, I am shocked." -CHATHAM.
"They are various, they are conflicting."
"For this great town, for the country at large, whose cause we are upholding, who fight we are fighting." -BROUGHAM. (De Mille)

9. Synonymous Words.-In the second place, precision is violated by the faulty use of synonymous words. As, by the changes of language, the same word is brought to designate different things, so different words are brought to designate the same thing, or nearly the same. No two words are the exact equivalents of each other, though it may answer practical purposes to use them as such. (Waddy)

10. The Repetition of Words similar in Sense, but different in Sound and Origin... [see Etymology] A Synonym is so Called when the sense of two or more words is similar, though the sound and appearance and derivation may be quite different. Synonyms do not make the figure called Synonymia unless they are used for the purposed of enhancing the force and fire of the passage. (Bullinger, 342)

11. SYNONYMIA. Synonymia is a Figure that useth several words of the same signification; because we fancy that one word alone, is not sufficient to express our sense, and to make a deep impression upon our audience. (Norwood, 112)

12. 2. USE WORDS WITH PROPRIETY AND WITH PRECISION.-Use words with the meanings they have in good authors, and use such as express precisely your ideas-the sentence fitting the thought perfectly and conveying it exactly. You are liable to choose the wrong word only when two or three words offer themselves which have some meaning in common, and which differ from each other only in particulars. Such words, coming sometimes all from the Norman-French, the Latin, or the Greek, or the Anglo-Saxon, but oftener one from the Anglo-Saxon and another from one of these foreign elements, we call synonyms. Synonyms constantly diverge from each other in signification, that is, the ground of meaning held in common by the members of a pair or triplet is gradually diminishing, while that held exclusively by each is constantly increasing. No better exercise to reach a careful and discriminating use of words can be devised than practice in handling synonyms. (Kellog, 90)


1. You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Crack Nature's molds, all germains spill at once,

That makes ungrateful man. (Lear 3.2 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

2. This figure is common in biblical proverbs, such as Prov 16.18:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Garrett Epp)

3. " You have overturned the republic from its roots ; you have demolished the state from its foundations." (Ad Herennium)

3. " You have impiously beaten your father; you have criminally laid hands upon your parent." (Ad Herennium)

4. Thus to describe a beautiful woman, may be said;

She hath a most winning countenance, a most pleasant eye, a most amiable presence, a chearful aspect, she is a most delicate object, &c.

Your beauty (sweet Lady) hath conquered my reason, subdued my will, mastered my judgment.
(JG Smith)

6. Is it not a true taken of intollerable arrogancie and venemous envie, wher the tongue is stil exercised in depraving, slandering, defacing, deriding and condemning of other mens wordes and workes? (Peacham)

5. (Interpretatio) Death how happy! How happy a death! That death our redemption! This death of his healed the wounds of our soul; washed the unclean; removed guilt. (Vinsauf)

7. Freedom and liberty: he is yet alive; he breathes aethereal air. (Holmes)

10. Ex. 2:23-25. -"And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased, and multiplied." Here, we are impressed with the extraordinary great and rapid increase of Israel in Egypt, on which the Divine Comment in Ps. 105:24 is, "Hence increased His People exceedingly." (Bullinger, 343)

11. Psal. 119. 60. I make haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments: as if the Psalmist could not sufficiently set forth his readiness to obey God, without a repetition of the same sense in other words. (Norwood, 112)

Kind Of Similarity
Part Of
Related Figures tautologia (vice), congeries, exergasia, figures of pathos, figures of repetition, figures of amplification, figures of definition, expolitio
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No