Take the following sentence: My idea is similar to his idea but not quite the same.

Is there a single word which means " similar but not quite the same"?

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    "similar" itself?
    – Neeku
    Aug 15, 2014 at 15:35
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    Very similar means 'similar but not quite the same'. If they were quite the same, they wouldn't be similar, but identical; and if they weren't so similar, they wouldn't be very similar. Aug 15, 2014 at 15:35
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    What do ordinary dictionaries and thesauri say about the word similar itself? It might be the very word you are looking for. Aug 15, 2014 at 15:35
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    @Brian Or it might be similar to the word. Aug 15, 2014 at 15:54
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    Depending exactly how similar two things are, you might say they're indistinguishable. Which normally implies they aren't actually identical, since if they were you'd probably just say they were the same. Aug 15, 2014 at 16:08

7 Answers 7


The word you are looking for is the adjective tantamount. In modern use, it is always followed by to. Oxford Dictionaries Online gives its meaning as:

Equivalent in seriousness to; virtually the same as

The real OED also historically attests a verb and a noun of that same spelling, but those are no longer used. It also documents rare attributive uses dating through the 19th century, of which two citations are:

  • 1798 Washington Let. Writ. 1893 XIV. 29 ― The President; to whom I have expressed tantamount sentiments in more concise terms.
  • 1868 Rogers Pol. Econ. i. (1876) 3 ― A tantamount service should be given in exchange for them.

So in summary, any idea that works out to essentially or virtually the same thing as a second idea is tantamount to that second idea.


While similar (“Having traits or characteristics in common; alike, comparable” - wiktionary) by itself should work, as may related (“Standing in relation or connection”). In addition consider akin (“Allied by nature; similar; partaking of the same properties; of the same kind” - wiktionary), as in “My idea is akin to his”. More figuratively, nodding acquaintance may work, used in its sense “A casual or partial familiarity; a relationship which is not close or fully developed; an inexact understanding” (wiktionary). For example, “My idea is a nodding acquaintance of his”.


Is there a single word which means " similar but not quite the same"?

Yes there is!

A good definition of "similar" would be "not quite the same".

Therefore you are asking for a single word that means: "Similar but similar."

Clearly the word is "similar".


  1. As a consequence of reading Charon's comment below, I edited my answer to the above.

  2. I see that someone (Neeku Aug 15 '14 at 15:35) proposed this solution a long time ago in a comment but without giving the logic behind it.

  • 1
    Surely if similar could be defined as not quite the same then your last sentence should read similar but similar and not similar but not similar.
    – Charon
    Jul 19, 2015 at 19:51
  • @Charon - Oops! You've caught me in a logic trap! I've revised my answer. Jul 19, 2015 at 20:52

Within the context of comparing ideas, you might consider:

My idea resonates with his.

Merriam Webster:

"to relate harmoniously"


I have a neat little book titled "Fowler's Modern English Usage". It dates back to 1925 but I own the second edition which was revised in 1965. There may be some words that have fallen out of popularity; nonetheless, it makes good use of the English grammar.

It didn't include the word "tantamount"; "similar" had nothing worth mentioning in this topic.

Someone here suggested "tantamount" which is as close as it gets to the concept. Take note the most common usage which is "equivalent in seriousness or effect".

Ex: A punch by Mike Tyson in the face tantamount to expensive medical bills.

Funny thing is that sentence is not only grammatically sound but could also be taken literal. In this manner we are saying both scenarios hold an equal measure of intensity.

If we said: "A punch by Mike Tyson (is) similar to getting hit by a small car."

We are now saying that a small car and Tyson's punch will each almost cause the exact outcome. And yes, they do have a "similar" degree of intensity but we cannot discern that they are meant to be completely separated in nature.

Another example:

"A punch by Tyson is similar to getting punched by Ali." In this context, "similar" is used appropriately.

Let's go for two more:

"Using unnecessary words tantamount to forgetting important ones." (yes) "Using a pencil is similar to using a pen." (yes)

"A professional author tantamount to a well-written book." (yes) "A professional author is similar to a well-written book." (no)

This two are not the same in any scope.

A book is similar to a kindle (they hold pages, pg. numbers, chapters, introductions, glossary, credits, acknowledgements, information..etc). Yet there are some characteristics which set them apart. For instance a book is made of different materials, it does not emit light, it is not electronic, and it does not contain more "books".

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    An author cannot be tantamount to a book, because neither a book nor an author are quantifiable. The derivation (L. tantus, + Eng. amount) may help.
    – agc
    Aug 2, 2016 at 5:57
  • Yes I explained that Aug 2, 2016 at 20:29
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    Well, there seems to be a miscommunication. Writing "(yes)" after an example usually signifies that the author agrees with it. If you meant the opposite, then that's not not clear at all.
    – agc
    Aug 3, 2016 at 2:18
  • Can you just point where the mistake is? This is perhals easier as I still don't know what you are talking about. Aug 3, 2016 at 21:01

2. Being in essence or effect, not in fact; as, the virtual presence of a man in his agent or substitute. [1913 Webster]


" Equivalent " adjective - equal in value, measure, force, effect, significance, etc.: - His silence is equivalent to an admission of guilt. - corresponding in position, function, etc.: - In some ways their prime minister is equivalent to our president. - Geometry. having the same extent, as a triangle and a square of equal area. - Mathematics. (of two sets) able to be placed in one-to-one correspondence. - Chemistry. having the same capacity to combine or react chemically.

  • 1
    OP asks for “similar but not quite the same”. Equivalent means more along the lines of “the same for all intents and purposes.”
    – Jim
    Jan 6, 2020 at 22:36

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