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Connectives of English Speech
“The work is likely to prove of great value to all writers.”–Washington Evening Star.
“The book will receive high appreciation from thoughtful students who seek the most practical help.”–Grand
“It is written in a clear and pleasing style and so arranged that but a moment’s time is needed to find any line
of the hundreds of important though small words which this book discusses.”–Chattanooga Times.
“Its practical reference value is great, and it is a great satisfaction to note the care and attention to detail and
fine shades of meaning the author has bestowed upon the words he discusses.”–Church Review, Hartford.
“A work of great practical helpfulness to a large class of people.”–Louisville Courier-Journal.
“This is one of the most useful books for writers, speakers, and all who care for the use of language, which
has appeared in a long time.”–Cumberland Presbyterian, Nashville.
“It is a book of great value to all who take any interest in correct and elegant language.”–Methodist,
Baltimore. “This work is a welcome aid to good writing and good speech. It is worth the close study of all who would
cultivate finished style. Its admirable arrangement and a good index make it easy for reference.”–Christian
Observer. “His book has some excellent qualities. In the first place, it is absolutely free from dogmatic assertion; in the
second place, it contains copious examples from good authors, which should guide aright the person
investigating any word, if he is thoroughly conversant with English.”–The Sun, New York.
STANDARD EDUCATIONAL SERIES
ENGLISH SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS
WITH NOTES ON THE CORRECT USE OF PREPOSITIONS
DESIGNED AS A COMPANION FOR THE STUDY AND AS A TEXT-BOOK FOR THE USE OF
JAMES C. FERNALD, L.H.D. Editor of Synonyms, Antonyms, and Prepositions in the Standard Dictionary
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY NEW YORK AND LONDON
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synonyms and antonyms pdf download
The English language is peculiarly rich in synonyms, as, with such a history, it could not fail to be. From the
time of Julius Cæsar, Britons, Romans, Northmen, Saxons, Danes, and Normans fighting, fortifying, and
settling upon the soil of England, with Scotch and Irish contending for mastery or existence across the
mountain border and the Channel, and all fenced in together by the sea, could not but influence each other’s
English merchants, sailors, soldiers, and travelers, trading, warring, and exploring in every clime, of
necessity, brought back new terms of sea and shore, of shop and camp and battlefield. English scholars have
studied Greek and Latin for a thousand years, and the languages of the Continent and of the Orient in more
English churchmen have introduced words from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, through Bible and
prayer-book, sermon and tract. From all this it results that there is scarcely a language ever spoken among
men that has not some representative in English speech. The spirit of the Anglo-Saxon race, masterful in
language as in war and commerce, has subjugated all these various elements to one idiom, making not a
patchwork, but a composite language.
Anglo-Saxon thrift, finding often several words that originally
expressed the same idea, has detailed them to different parts of the common territory or to different service, so
that we have an almost unexampled variety of words, kindred in meaning but distinct in usage, for expressing
almost every shade of human thought. Scarcely any two of such words, commonly known as synonyms, are identical at once in signification and in
They have certain common ground within which they are interchangeable; but outside of that each has its
own special province, within which any other word comes as an intruder. From these two qualities arises the
great value of synonyms as contributing to beauty and effectiveness of expression. As interchangeable, they
make possible that freedom and variety by which the diction of an accomplished writer or speaker differs
from the wooden uniformity of a legal document.
As distinct and specific, they enable a master of style to
choose in every instance the one term that is the most perfect mirror of his thought. To write or speak to the
best purpose, one should know in the first place all the words from which he may choose, and then the exact
reason why in any case any particular word should be chosen. To give such knowledge in these two directions
is the office of a book of synonyms.
Of Milton’s diction Macaulay writes:
Synonyms and Antonyms pdf
“His poetry acts like an incantation. Its merit lies less in its obvious meaning than in its occult power. There
would seem, at first sight, to be no more in his words than in other words. But they are words of enchantment.
No sooner are they pronounced, than the past is present and the distant near. New forms of beauty start at once
into existence, and all the burial places of the memory give up their dead.
Change the structure of the sentence; substitute one synonym for another, and the whole effect is destroyed. The spell loses its power; and he who should then hope to conjure with it would find himself as much mistaken as Cassim in the Arabian tale, when he stood crying, ‘Open Wheat,’ ‘Open Barley,’ to the door which obeyed no sound but ‘Open
Sesame.’ The miserable failure of Dryden in his attempt to translate into his own diction some parts of the
‘Paradise Lost’ is a remarkable instance of this.”
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Macaulay’s own writings abound in examples of that exquisite precision in the choice of words, which never
seems to be precise, but has all the aspect of absolute freedom. Through his language his thought bursts upon
the mind as a landscape is seen instantly, perfectly, and beautifully from a mountain height.
A little vagueness
of thought, a slight infelicity in the choice of words would be like a cloud upon the mountain, obscuring the
scene with a damp and chilling mist. Let anyone try the experiment with a poem like Gray’s “Elegy,” or
Goldsmith’s “Traveller” or “Deserted Village,” of substituting other words for those the poet has chosen, and
he will readily perceive how much of the charm of the lines depends upon their fine exactitude of expression.
In our own day, when so many are eager to write, and confident that they can write, and when the press is
sending forth by the ton that which is called literature, but which somehow lacks the imprint of immortality, it
is of the first importance to revive the study of synonyms as a distinct branch of rhetorical culture. Prevalent
errors need at times to be noted and corrected, but the teaching of pure English speech is the best defense
against all that is inferior, unsuitable, or repulsive.
The most effective condemnation of an objectionable word
or phrase is that it is not found in scholarly works, and a student who has once learned the rich stores of
vigorous, beautiful, exact, and expressive words that make up our noble language, is by that very fact put
beyond the reach of all temptation to linguistic corruption.
synonyms and antonyms pdf
Special instruction in the use of synonyms is necessary, for the reason that few students possess the analytical
power and habit of mind required to hold a succession of separate definitions in thought at once, compare
them with each other, and determine just where and how they part company; and the persons least able to do
this are the very ones most in need of the information.
The distinctions between words similar in meaning are
often so fine and elusive as to tax the ingenuity of the accomplished scholar; yet when clearly apprehended
they are as important for the purposes of language as the minute differences between similar substances are
for the purposes of chemistry.
Often definition itself is best secured by the comparison of kindred terms and
the pointing out where each differs from the other. We perceive more clearly and remember better what each
word is, by perceiving where each divides from another of kindred meaning; just as we see and remember
better the situation and contour of adjacent countries, by considering them as boundaries of each other, rather
than by an exact statement of the latitude and longitude of each as a separate portion of the earth’s surface.
The great mass of untrained speakers and writers need to be reminded, in the first place, that there are
synonyms–a suggestion which they would not gain from any precision of separate definitions in a dictionary.
The deplorable repetition with which many slightly educated persons use such words as “elegant,” “splendid,”
“clever,” “awful,” “horrid,” etc., to indicate (for they can not be said to express) almost any shade of certain
approved or objectionable qualities, shows a limited vocabulary, a poverty of language, which it is of the first
importance to correct.
Many who are not given to such gross misuse would yet be surprised to learn how often
they employ a very limited number of words in the attempt to give utterance to thoughts and feelings so
unlike, that what is the right word on one occasion must of necessity be the wrong word at many other times.
Such persons are simply unconscious of the fact that there are other words of kindred meaning from which
they might choose; as the United States surveyors of Alaska found “the shuddering tenant of the frigid zone”
wrapping himself in furs and cowering over a fire of sticks with untouched coal-mines beneath his feet.
Such poverty of language is always accompanied with poverty of thought. One who is content to use the same
Synonyms and Antonyms, by James Champlin Fernald 4
synonyms and antonyms pdf
the word for widely different ideas has either never observed or soon comes to forget that there is any difference
between the ideas; or perhaps he retains a vague notion of a difference which he never attempts to define to
himself, and dimly hints to others by adding to his inadequate word some such phrase as “you see” or “you
know,” in the helpless attempt to inject into another mind by suggestion what adequate words would enable
him simply and distinctly to say. Such a mind resembles the old maps of Africa in which the interior was
filled with cloudy spaces, where modern discovery has revealed great lakes, fertile plains, and mighty rivers.
One main office of a book of synonyms is to reveal to such persons the unsuspected riches of their own
language; and when a series of words is given them, from which they may choose, then, with intelligent
choice of words there comes of necessity a clearer perception of the difference of the ideas that are to be
expressed by those different words. Thus, copiousness and clearness of language tend directly to affluence
and precision of thought.
Hence there is an important use for mere lists of classified synonyms, like Roget’s Thesaurus and the works of
Soule and Fallows. Not one in a thousand of average students would ever discover, by independent study of
the dictionary, that there are fifteen synonyms for beautiful, twenty-one for beginning, fifteen for benevolence,
twenty for friendly, and thirty-seven for pure. The mere mention of such numbers opens vistas of possible
fulness, freedom, and variety of utterance, which will have for many persons the effect of a revelation.
But it is equally important to teach that synonyms are not identical and to explain why and how they differ. A
person of extensive reading and study, with a fine natural sense of language, will often find all that he wants
in the mere list, which recalls to his memory the appropriate word. But for the vast majority there is needed
some work that compares or contrasts synonymous words, explains their differences of meaning or usage, and
shows in what connections one or the other may be most fitly used. This is the purpose of the present work, to
be a guide to selection from the varied treasures of English speech.
This work treats within 375 pages more than 7500 synonyms. It has been the study of the author to give every
definition or distinction in the fewest possible words consistent with clearness of statement, and this not
merely for economy of space, but because such condensed statements are most easily apprehended and
The method followed has been to select from every group of synonyms one word, or two contrasted words,
the meaning of which may be settled by clear definitive statement, thus securing some fixed point or points to
which all the other words of the group may be referred. The great source of vagueness, error, and perplexity in
many discussions of synonyms is, that the writer merely associates stray ideas loosely connected with the
different words, sliding from synonym to synonym with no definite point of departure or return, so that a
smooth and at first sight pleasing statement really gives the mind no definite resting-place and no sure
A true discussion of synonyms is definition by comparison, and for this there must be something
definite with which to compare. When the standard is settled, approximation or differentiation can be
determined with clearness and certainty. It is not enough to tell something about each word. The thing to tell
is how each word is related to others of that particular group. When a word has more than one prominent
meaning, the synonyms for one signification are treated in one group and a reference is made to some other
group in which the synonyms for another signification are treated, as may be seen by noting the synonyms
given under APPARENT, and following the reference to EVIDENT.
It has been impossible within the limits of this volume to treat in full all the words of each group of
synonyms. Sometimes it has been necessary to restrict the statement to a mere suggestion of the correct use; in
some cases only the chief words of a group could be considered, giving the key to the discussion, and leaving
the student to follow out the principle in the case of other words by reference to the definitive statements of
the dictionary. It is to be hoped that at some time a dictionary of synonyms may be prepared, giving as full a
list as that of Roget or of Soule, with discriminating remarks upon every word. Such a work would be of the
greatest value, but obviously beyond the scope of a text-book for the class-room.
Synonyms and Antonyms, by James Champlin Fernald 5
The author has here incorporated, by permission of the publishers of the Standard Dictionary, much of the
synonym matter prepared by him for that work. All has been thoroughly revised or reconstructed, and much
wholly new matter has been added.
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The book contains also more than 3700 antonyms. These are valuable as supplying definition by contrast or
by negation, one of the most effective methods of defining being in many cases to tell what a thing is not. To
speakers and writers, antonyms are useful as furnishing oftentimes effective antitheses.
Young writers will find much help from the indication of the correct use of prepositions, the misuse of which
is one of the most common of errors, and one of the most difficult to avoid, while their right use gives to style
cohesion, firmness, and compactness, and is an important aid to perspicuity. To the text of the synonyms is
appended a set of Questions and Examples to adapt the work for use as a text-book. Aside from the purposes
of the classroom, this portion will be found of value to the individual student. Excepting those who have
made a thorough study of language, most persons will discover with surprise how difficult it is to answer any
set of the Questions or to fill the blanks in the Examples without referring to the synonym treatment in Part I.,
or to a dictionary, and how rarely they can give any intelligent reason for preference even among familiar
words. There are few who can study such work without finding occasion to correct some errors into which
they have unconsciously fallen, and without coming to a new delight in the use of language from a fuller
knowledge of its resources and a clearer sense of its various capabilities.
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