F. Sturges (Frederic Sturges) Allen.

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General Editor of



Allen's Synonyms and Antonyms

Copyright, 1920, by Harper & Brothers

Copyright, Canada, 1920

Registered at Stationers' Hall, London, England

Copyright in Great Britain and Ireland

and in all countries subscribing

to the Berne Convention

All rights of publication and translation growing out of copyright in the United States

of America, 1920, and in Great Britain, 1920, and under treaties with the United States

of America, and otherwise, are reserved by Harper & Brothers.

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

To My Friend

In appreciation of the watchful care which re-
stored me to health, in the year 1914, mak-
ing possible the carrying on and com-
pletion of the work, on this book.


When, about the year 1900, I began work upon a dictionar>- of
s^Tion^ins I planned to make what would h>e essentially a thorough
^e^'ision and enlargement of a p^e^'iousIy existing work on the subject.
But after a short while I was convinced that such a method would
result in a book with which I should only be dissatisfied. I then decided
to make a complete original dictionaiy of s^^3on^'ms. la^Tng the emphasis
upon words of hteraiy- and technical value, but omitting phrases the in-
clusion of which would swell the book to unreasonable proportions.

With this end in ^'iew I began the study of the definitions and quota-
tions given in the Oxford English Dictionary (easily the greatest dictionary
m any language), thinking I should be able to complete my book in four
or five years at the most. It soon became plain, however, that the task
could not be completed in this length of time, for before I had finished
even the examination of the 15,000 pages of the Oxford English Dictionary
more than five years had elapsed. But during that time I had made
about 300,000 memoranda of words. Since the vocabularies of the
more important special dictionaries — of dialect, of law, medicine, seaman-
ship, engineering, etc. — are covered in the Oxford work, my notes repre-
sent a winnowing of ^-i^tually the whole fund of recorded English diction.

The collation and apphcation of these 300.000 memoranda have
taken me many years of intense labor; but these memoranda form the
basis upon which the present dictionary- has been constructed.

My aim has been to make the scope of the book as broad as possible
in order to meet the requirements of my most critical advisers, though
this has not been easy. Some have urged that obsolete and rare words
be omitted; others have ad%Tsed that they be retained. Some have
thought the contextual notes superfluous ; others, even among professional
writers, have considered them highly valuable. And so with other
features of the book. What some have thought needless, others have
thought helpful. As a result it has seemed advisable to meet all reason-
able requirements by including those features which serve any widely
felt need.

The surpassing number of words I have had to work upon has
made it easier to carr^- out a sound and helpful conception of s^Tionymy
— badly lacking in some manuals of this kind. The fuUness of reference
to anton^Ttts, and the parenthetical comments that for many thousand
words note their special status or special limitations upon their use will
make a new appeal to discriminating writers.



To the incH'hanical features of the work I have paid special attention.
I have endeavoretl, by means of a thorough system of cross references,
to avoid the many repetitions which frequently occur in other dic-
tionaries of synonyms. Furthermore, I have gone over the proofs
many times to detect errors and omissions, which easily occur in a
work so extensive, so complex, and so essentially new in its form of
presentation; and I therefore believe the first edition of this book to
be as correct as it is humanly possible to make it. But if any error or
omission be discovered I shall esteem it a favor if the reader will l)ut
apprise the publishers, so that corrections may be made in subsequent

This new presentation of the subject has been by no means the
result of sudden inspiration. On the contrary, it has been the result
of long years of unceasing study and experiment. If, therefore, I
have afforded material help in the study of the micaning of words and
in the correct use of English — the most resourceful of all languages —
I shall not have labored in vain.

I wish hereby to acknowledge my indebtedness to those who have
followed my work with suggestions and criticisms, and especially to
Dr. Frederick W. Kilbourne of Meriden, Connecticut, for reading the
last one hundred galley proofs and to Prof. Alfred D. Sheffield of Cam-
bridge, Massachusetts, for seeing through the press the last two hundred
pages of proofs.

F. Sturges Allen.

Springfield, Mass., August, 1920.


affected. — When a person deliberately uses a diction which is not natural
and is not chosen simply in order best to convey his meaning, his use
of words is affected. This is ordinarily due to prudery, excessive niceness
or fastidiousness, undue desire for show, or a desire to support some
pretense, as of sympathy, refinement, etc. There are in English
various words which are typically so used in some senses, and they
are followed in this book by the word ''affected," as where delectation is
used for delight, peregrinator for 'pilgrim, confect for make, emporium
for market, limb for leg, avaunt for awaij, etc.

Common forms of affectation are the excessive use of euphemisms
(see EUPHEMISTIC, below) and intensives.

archaic. — Words that belong to the past but have now fallen into disuse
in ordinary language, but are for some reason retained in particular
uses, as in poetry or for their flavor of archaism, are followed by the
term archaic. Archaic uses may survive with particular individuals,
as when the word positive is pronounced with the i before the v long
(as in pine), or the word oblige is pronounced with the i sounded as ee.
Among the very many words archaically used in English are: ghastful
for alarming, anhungered for hungry, bestow for apply, host for army,
facets for facetious, hostel for inn, inform for deformed, etc.

A word may become obsolete or archaic in general use, but be
retained in professional use or in some stock phrase, as let in "without
let or hindrance," hearse or herse for bier in certain ecclesiastical usage.
Archaic uses often shade almost insensibly into those that are poetic,
learned, or rare.

bookish. — Some words are literary in that they are little used out of
books, but still lack any special literary associations aside from the
fact that they are rather more formal than ordinary words or that they
"smell of the shop." Terms decidedly of this character are often
termed bookish (and are so marked in this book) , as horrific for horrible
or frightful, tintinnabulum for bell, verve for ardor, horrific for fearful.
The use of such words often smacks of preciosity or stiltedness. Of
course here, as in all matters of usage, there is no definite line of dis-
tinction setting off bookish words as a group from those usually felt
to be literary, learned, technical, or pedantic. Cf. tech., below.

colloq. — Those words are designated as colloq. (that is, colloquial) which
are usually and properly common in ordinary speech or conversation,


but lack the dignity of association which is necessary to make thcni
appropriate for formal or elevated discourse.

The use of these words in ordinary conversation is not suggestive
of vulgarity, but when used in formal or elevated discourse they lend
an air of tiippancj' or illiteracy that is offensive to good taste. Words
which have not become recognized as in good usage even to the extent
of being colloquial are designated as slang (which see, below). The
appropriate use of colloquial words lends a charm and easiness to
informal conversation without which it is likely to appear affected,
stilted, or pedantic.

A few examples of colloquialisms are: milksop for coward, flit for
depart, cabby for cob driver, sieing for liberty, ado for fuss.
contextual. — As used in this book the word contextual is used for brevity
in place of "a contextual seyise or usage." Very many words depend
more or less upon their context or the circumstances of their use for a
part of the sense or meaning which they are intended to convey. Thus,
when the question is asked, "Have you done your arithmetic?", we
must know the facts with reference to which the question was asked
in order to know what done implies, as learned, memorized, or worked
the examples of. This dependence of a word upon its context or the
circumstances of its use exists, to a greater or less degree, in all cases
where a word of more general meaning is used in place of a word of a
narrower, or specific, meaning. Thus, whenever we use do in this way,
we must in each case look beyond the word itself to know the particular
implication which it is intended to have.

An almost unlimited number of contextual synonyms might in this
way be given in any dictionary of synonjTns, as for example animal
under horse, cow, child, man, womayi, insect, etc.; emotion under passion,
frenzy, love, hatred, joy, happiness, etc.; move under rush, go, dart, run,
walk, creep, glide, etc.

I have attempted to avoid uselessly cluttering the pages of the book
with an excess of such sjTionyms, but have added general words as
sjTionyms where it was felt that they would be of service to the user
of the book.

Examples of the use of contextual occur on most of the pages, as after
ecclesiastic under monk, girl under hussy, product under offspring, mark
under brand, etc.
euphemistic. — One often has occasion to express what is in itself un-
pleasant or is conventionally tabooed in direct expression, by using
terms that have less offensive suggestions than would be involved in
those precisely or bluntly indicating one's meaning.

The use of euphemisms is a notable feature of primitive races or
customs, as where the Greeks designated the avenging Errinnyes by
the name Eumenides (a name which arose as a euphemism, and literally
means, "the gracious ones"), or where we use intoxicated for dnnik or


bowels or intestines for guts (a word once in polite usage and still proper
in some connections). Other words wholly or often used euphemistic-
ally are infidelity for adultery, intimacy for illicit amour, departure
for death, innocent for simpleton. So any word of pleasant connotation
may be used in place of a word of unpleasant suggestion whenever the
intended sense will be conveyed.

fig. — 'When the use of a word in the sense for which it is given involves a
consciousness that it is more or less transferred or figurative in use,
the word is followed hy fig. {iov figurative). This has resulted in many
words being marked fig. which are not figurative in any sense that
would imply that their use belongs to what is rhetorically called
figurative, flowery, or ornate discourse; but merely that the sense
though established in English usage is not one in which the con-
sciousness of transferred or figurative use is yet entirely forgotten,
and without the fig. there might be a momentary difficulty in sensing
the connection. This is the case with blaspheme for abuse, whip for
abuse, or cosmic for consistent, voice for speaker, day for time.

Proper names conventionally used as synonyms are also designated
as fig., where the consciousness of the figure still exists, as where
Boanerges is used for speaker, Castalia or Hippocrene for spring, Cyclo-
pean for massive.

formal. — I have designated by formal those words which are charac-
teristic of formal or precise discourse, as where insular is used for
island (as an adjective), protasis for beginning, chamber for bedroom.
Here again it is difficult to draw the line between those sufficiently
formal to be so designated and those which are not, and I have omitted
the designation when there seemed to be any question about its

intensive. — When the intensive force of a word is a noticeable element of
its meaning the designation intensive is added after the word. In
many cases a prefix is added to a word so as to form a new word, but
in an intensified degree. The commonest prefixes so used are be- and
en- or em-, as in bedeck, becloud, bespatter, embolden, empoison, enchain;
but en- and em- are now little used in new combinations, and be- usually
has a suggestion of excess, often with a note of contempt or disgust,
as in bedeck, begem, becalm, bespatter, bedraggle. The intensive force
is plainly felt in some of the older words, now obsolete or archaic, as
in beshrew (thee), bethink (thee), and in many modern forms, such as
bedew, enfeeble, empoison, enchase, encarnalize, etc. In many cases
the intensive force of the prefix em- or en- is lost and the compound
word has become the ordinary term, as embitter (rather than bitter),
encircle (rather than circle), emboss (rather than boss). The em-
phatic form is in some cases so far restricted to poetic use as to justify
the denomination poetic.

learned. — 'Many words are common enough in learned discourse, written



or spoken, but arc nevcrlheless quite out of place in ordinary general
literature or conversation. Technical terms (here marked as tech.)
are essentially of the learned class; but many other words which
cannot properly be classed as technical and yet are not generally
known to those of ordinary education, are in this work followed Ijy
the word ^'learned." It would be ridiculous to designate as learned all
words not understood or which are not at all, or but imperfectly,
understood by those with only a grammar-school or even a high-
school education, for of these words, many will be more or less familiar
to one person and strange to another, who in turn may know well
wonls unfamiliar or unknown to the first. Words of this class are
lugubrio7is, dolorous, matiitinal, venial, fallacious, inimical, and these
are left unmarked, though at times it is difficult to draw the line
between them and those marked affected, learned, or literary.

Those words designated as learned, therefore, are only those about
which there seems to be no question and concerning the nature of
which a warning should be given to the user of this dictionary. Among
them are: indite for compose, mordacious for biting, decollate for behead,
autochthonous for native. Learned words are often, like technical
terms, more exact in their meanings than more common words.

literary. — ]\Iany words are chiefly restricted in use to literary expression
notable for its elevation in form or taste or to formal addresses couched
in such language, and these are designated as literary. Such words
carry a suggestion of studied elegance of expression or of learning that
would lend to their use in colloquial or technical discourse an appear-
ance of pedantry, stiltedness, or affectation.

Many or most of these words have once belonged to ordinary dic-
tion, but have by a long restricted use been set aside for this more
studied or elegant discourse, as burgeon for bud, distrait for absent-minded.
The setting apart of words in this way is a process continually going
on in English. Further common examples of "literary" words are
froward for perverse, fruition for enjoyment, imbrue for stain, impugn for
attach, Thespian for dramatic, array for dress, decease for die, fuliginous
for smoky, infelicitous for unhappy. Cf. formal, above.

obs. — The abbreviation obs. (for obsolete) is put after such words as have
fallen into disuse but have seemed notable enough to warrant their
inclusion among the synonyms. Since Chaucer's time many thousands
of English words have become obsolete, and the presence of even a
large part of them would mar a book of English synonjTns of to-day.
The art of printing has now, as it were, stereotyped our English vocabu-
lary, so that in these days words comparatively seldom become ob-
solete. Indeed, there is at present rather a tendency, consciously^ or
unconsciously, to retain or revive words already partly or wholly
fallen into disuse, as is seen in the large number of words marked



Therefore, where there has seemed to be some literary or other
sufficient reason for including in the book an obsolete word, I have not
hesitated to do so, as in case of pleat for braid, pleasant for buffoon,
wick for village.

obsolescent. — ^Where a word has begun to fall into disuse, but still has
use enough so that it would be inappropriate to designate it as rare
or obsolete, I have added the designation obsolescent. As already said,
words do not now so often become obsolete, the influence of the printing-
press being to keep in use the vocabulary which we already have.
Words that are simply falling into disuse and so are obsolescent (as
incommodious for inconvenient, quiz for hoax) are to be distinguished
from archaic words which are consciously retained in use or revived for
the sake of the flavor of archaism associated with them. Cf . archaic,

rare. — The term rare after a word denotes that the word is rarely used
in general literature. Rare vrords consist mostly of those which now
and then appear in literature but have never become common. Thus,
fledgy for feathery, affright for fear, desipient for foolish were first used
many years ago, but they have never become established in general
use. Some words now rare were once common ; where the fact of their
former frequent occurrence is of notable interest these are usually
designated as now rare. Rare words ordinarily are of a more or less
learned or pedantic character, and hence their use is often affected to
produce a humorous or ironical effect.

rhetorical. — The word rhetorical is used to designate words which are
characteristically used in language that is artificially or extravagantly
elegant, or that specially seeks to convey an extreme or exaggerated
effect, as where mighty is used for big, or mellifluous for melodious, or
ivroth for angry.

slang. — ^When a word as a whole, or in the given sense, has a certain
arbitrary use, but is considered as generally below the level of educated
speech, it is designated as slang.

Slang generally consists of new words or new uses of old words;
but this is not necessarily so. Mere newness does not make a word
or sense slang, for many of the new words and senses of words in all
departments of life, especially in the arts and sciences, are not slang
in this sense, though they might come under the very broad sense
of slang as equivalent to jargon, or technical terminology (cf. tech.,
below). Generally speaking, the use of slang is not only inconsistent
with a refined or elegant diction, but also with that seriousness and
dignity which is felt to be essential to the general course of conduct and

Occasionally, terms which arise as slang, such as hoax, jitney, and
bus, are accepted into good usage, but the great bulk of slang words
(such as newlywed for benedict, dope for medicine, claret for blood,


buster for blusterer or a big thing) remain slang as long as they
are used.
spec. — The word specific (abbreviated in the text to spec.) denotes that
a word is a synonjan of the title word only in having a specific, or
particular and restricted, sense which is included among those for
which the title word may be used. Specific senses are at the opposite
extreme from words which have such a general meaning that they are
denominated contextual (which see, above).

It is noteworthy that the more exact a person becomes in his designa-
tion or description, the more specific are the words which he uses.
Such words when correctly used conduce to accuracy, but they corre-
spondingly narrow, often belittle, the meaning.

The designation spec, therefore, often serves as a useful or needed
warning that a word given as a synonym is so much restricted in its
meaning that it is not to be used as a general equivalent of the other;
in many other cases this is obvious without the spec, which is then given
merely for the sake of uniformity. For examples consult entries on
almost any page at random, as depart, horse, perceive, shrine, child,
tech. — The abbreviation tech. (for technical) is added after words such
as pomiform for apple-shaped, ramus for branch, squama for scale,
sternum for breastbone, which are chiefly found in, and characteristic of,
technical usage. Many, perhaps most, of such words are occasionally
to be found outside of technical literature, but their use then nearly
always gives an impression of learning or pedantry. Many technical
terms are the mere jargon, or slang (in the broad sense), of a trade
or profession, and such terms are not ordinarily included in this

It is to be noted that technical, as well as learned, terms are ordinarily
more specific and exact in meaning than popular words, and are also
barren of much or all of the connotations which lend to the commoner
words their richness of meaning.

Jl^" Various characterizations of words other than those given above are
used in this book, such as British, U. S., hist, (for historical), antiq. (for
antiquarian or antiquities), stilted, etc. Such designations have mean-
ings readily inferred from their ordinary significations, and there is
nothing in their relation to general usage or to each other to call for
explanation of them here. Thus, the designation British is equivalent
to "only or distinctively in British usage"; U. S., to "only or
distinctively in use in the United States"; hist., to "used in historical
reference or discourse"; antiq., to "used by antiquarians or in
reference to antiquities"; stilted, to "characteristically used in stilted



a adjective.

adj adjective.

adv adverb.

Af., Afr Africa.

Am America.

anat anatomy.

antiq antiquities.

arch architecture.

archffiol archaeology.

astrol astrology.

astron astronomy.

Bib Biblical.

biol biology.

bot botany.

Brit British.

Can Canada.

cf confer (L., compare).

chem chemistry.

coUoq colloquial.

conj conjunction.

dial dialect, dialectal.

dim diminutive.

eccl ecclesiastical.

econ economics.

elec electrical.

Engl English.

esp especially.

etc et cetera (L., and so forth).

ethnol ethnology.

exclam exclamation.

fem feminine.

fig figurative, figuratively.

Ger. German.

her heraldry.

hist historical, hi.story.

infin infinitive.

interj interjection.

math mathematics.

med medicine.

metal metallurgy.

metaph metaphysics.

meteorol meteorology.

min mineralogy.

mythol mythology.

n noun.

New Eng New England.

obs obsolete.

obsolesc obsolescent.

p participle.

philos philosophy.

physiol physiology.

pi plural.

Port Portuguese.

p.p participle past.

p. pr participle present.

prep preposition.

pron pronoun.

psychol psychology.

R. C. Ch Roman Catholic Church.

Scot Scottish, Scotland.

sing singular.

So South.

Sp Spanish.

spec specific.

tech technical.

theol theology.

U. S United States.

V verb.

var variant (spelling).

v. i verb intransitive.

v. t verb transitive.

zool zoology.


Every cross reference from a word is to some other synonymous word,
under which it is given either merely as a synonym or by way of a recip-
rocal reference at the end. This latter is often done where there are
two groups of synonyms of overlapping signification.

The matter in smaller type at the foot of the page consists entirely
of cross references, the words in the italic type in each case having, under
the main vocabulary entrance, a list of synonyms including the word
referred from. Thus, "obloquy: abuse, discredit" means: "see in the

Online LibraryF. Sturges (Frederic Sturges) AllenAllen's synonyms and antonyms → online text (page 1 of 91)