Why do we have synonyms at all? Why don't we just have one word for each definition?

11 Answers

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  • Lili
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    To enrich our language and render it more flexible, colorful, and precise.

    The English language is one of the richest, deepest, on the planet. We should be grateful that it is, because it allows us to be so expressive.

  • 6 months ago

    Because synonyms can have subtle differences.

  • 6 months ago

    Sometimes, there are subtle differences in the precise meaning of two synonyms, but many times they are just an artifact of our evolving language. The English language is in a constant state of evolution. You may not notice it on a day-to-day basis, but we certainly don't speak the same English today that Shakespeare used. Populations move around and bring their language with them. For instance, the British Empire colonized many distant lands and brought back many of their words.

    We also make up our own words for things that already have a name. Look at all the different words we use for marijuana to disguise what we're talking about. The same is true of sex and body parts. People don't feel comfortable saying "penis", so if it comes up in polite conversation, they'll use something like willy, or peter. Some of these words stick, and then you have multiple words meaning the same thing. Fortunately, the English don't have language police to enforce the words we choose to use.

    • John P
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      Over the years and the centuries different values have grown up for word with similar meaning, many coming from one of three sources - Germanic, Latin, Latin via Old French, as in: kingly, royal, regal. The varied history of English speakers has ensured that wide variety of sources.

  • g
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    "Why don't we just have one word for each definition?"

    We do! And that word is also referred to as a synonym. Tracking?

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  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    Because in many cases, different people in different places invent different words for the same thing

  • 6 months ago

    Because each word has nuances.

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    Because English is a mix of loads of different languages squashed together over hundreds and hundreds of years.

    It's all higgledy-piggledy.

    • Tommymc
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      Actually, this is an accurate answer. Whoever gave it a thumbs down must not fully understand how the English language evolved.

  • 6 months ago

    The more words have their synonyms,the more rich the language becomes.

  • 6 months ago

    English words come from various sources. The language gradually came together as local dialects merged, borrowing words from each other. To describe a particular concept, we may have a large number of words taken from different languages, each with a subtly different meaning. So we have flower (from French), bloom (from German) blossom (from Danish), fleur (still is French) and flora (Latin). English has more words than any other language - which is a bonus for dictionary publishers.

  • 6 months ago

    I don't no. How about one spelling? Yes, are know?

    • The Football God
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      The word "IF" has how many definitions? And yet only one spelling. Why not have a word spelled the same with multiple definitions and uses? Simplify out language. I agree with the questioner.

      For you English perfessers, why even have silent letters?

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