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A synonym is a word which has the same, or nearly the same, meaning as another word. For example, a synonym for cheerful could be happy or merry. A synonym can be very useful in bringing range and variety to text and help avoid repeating the same word unnecessarily.

When choosing a synonym, it is important to think carefully about the connotation of the word you are looking to change. Looking in a thesaurus for the term you want to replace will give you a long list of choices, but not all of them may be appropriate for what you are trying to say. For example, a synonym for old could be outdated but that might not convey the right meaning when you are attempting to describe an archaeological site and want to talk about ancient artefacts. Context will help you decide on the best synonym to use.

The use of a good synonym can bring extra depth to your writing. The words you choose can completely alter the tone of a piece – consider the difference between talking about "last night's soiree" and "last night's booze up". The first brings to mind visions of an elegant and sophisticated evening; the second would describe a drunken, debauched night to someone British but might leave an American wondering what you are talking about.

The use of slang automatically creates an informal tone and but you need to be aware that it can also limit your audience. It is worth creating a list of equivalent American and British words because a term that is commonly used in one area may have a synonym that is completely different in another; whilst slang can be useful in creating a particular mood, it is important to be aware that not everyone will be able to understand it. An appreciation of words with the same or similar meanings will enable you to write more inclusively and allow you to build a vivid scene through your choice of vocabulary.

The right synonym can make a world of difference to your writing. Increasing your vocabulary options will give you more tools to work with when crafting a piece and, if you are a poet, assist you in creating the right metre and rhyme. The more words you have at your disposal, the better your writing will be.