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The object of the present little work is to offer, in a concise form, to those interested in the study of English, a collection of the most important Synonyms in this language. The principal features of this book are:
1. The derivation of each synonym is given.
2. The different shades of meaning of each pair, group, etc. of synonyms are clearly and concisely described.
3. Each synonym is followed by one or more examples, mostly taken from the best English authors.
4. There is an Appendix containing an alphabetical List of Prefixes and Affixes.
The author is well aware of the great difficulty of the work he has undertaken, he must therefore ask those who may be inclined to criticise it, to do as the poet says:
„Take it up tenderly
Treat it with care“,
and if they cannot say anything good about it, to say nothing
VIENNA, September, 1882.
Synonyms (Greek synonymon-syn, with, and onoma, a name) are words which have the same meaning. Strictly speaking, there are no, or very few synonyms, for in the same way that there are no two persons or no two things in nature exactly alike, so there are no two words exactly alike. If we closely examine two words reckoned as synonyms, we shall find a slight shade of difference between them, although it may be very slight. The knowledge of these little shades. of difference is of greater importance than many imagine, for, although one word may often be used for another, we can, in knowing the exact shades of meaning, express ourselves with much more exactness, and give more purity to our style. As these shades exist in words, they must also exist in our ideas, which can therefore be properly expressed only by using the exact words conveying them. The English language, on account of its structure, is particularly rich in synonyms (for we must make use of this word). Being partly derived from the AngloSaxon and partly from the Latin, we have often two words with the same, or nearly the same meaning, viz. a word from the Anglo-Saxon, and the corresponding word from the Latin. The Latin being the more refined language, and the AngloSaxon the more homely, the word from the Latin, although standing for the same as the Anglo-Saxon word, will have more refinement in it, so to say, than the Anglo-Saxon; on
the other hand, the latter will have in it something more homely, something which touches the heart more than its cold corresponding Latin term. For instance, take the words motherly and maternal. The former derived from the Anglo-Saxon, implies all the beautiful feelings and tenderness of a mother towards her child; maternal, from the Latin, implies simply the duties of, or what pertains to, a mother. Although we have introduced etymologies in this little work, still we have taken as our standard, the sense in which words are used by the best speakers and writers of the present day not what the words meant formerly, but what they mean now; for in the course of years many words have deteriorated, or have been modified, whilst others have been raised in their meanings.