There are things that can be described in numerous ways, but the description still means the same thing.

Is there a word or phrase that encapsulates such things, or the property about the things that allows such interchanging of words?

For example, the situation that brought this to mind was being drunk. You can pretty much add ed to any noun (or use a past participle) and it means drunk:

I am totally: fucked, bollocked, badgered, squirrelled, blasted, wasted, coloned, trousered, wankered, cabbaged, waxed, mashed, etc.

(Yes, some of those aren't in common use, but that is my point, you would still be understood.)

So the word or phrase I'm looking for would decribe the property or category that "being drunk" falls into that means it can be described in such a variety of ways.

  • Almost anything can be described in many ways. English has a lot of synonyms, not to mention slang. That's why thesauruses exist. – Nicole Dec 17 '14 at 14:40
  • I'm not convinced that many of those things would immediately suggest that drunkenness was the issue, unless it was clear from your manner and appearance that you were. 'I'm bollocked' would more likely suggest to me that the speaker was exhausted. – WS2 Dec 17 '14 at 14:53

For a single term that has many meanings


This is evidenced by having multiple dictionary entries for the same spelling, either related meanings in distinct settings (eg autoantonyms like 'cleave') or entirely distinct meanings (eg 'post').

For a single meaning that has many terms, there is the neologism:


which is not in the dictionary, but is common enough in academic writing.

  • I've removed the link to "polysynonymy" as it led to a 404 page, and the fact that the word was linked here was misleading. – Dan Bron Dec 17 '14 at 14:58
  • @DanBron That link was my perfectly good proof that it was not a word. – Mitch Dec 17 '14 at 15:04

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