I am having trouble distinguishing between the words coeval and coterminous. Several thesauruses list them as synonyms, but some dictionaries offer different meanings.

Do have the same meaning? Does coeval have a temporal meaning?

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  • a simple google search tells you that they don't mean the same thing. coeval vs. coterminous – user180089 Jul 8 '16 at 15:25
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    Questions which lack results of research are out of scope. Include the specific results you obtained from your references and why you still have a question. This helps people write good answers, and is also a courtesy to them because it prevents duplication of effort. For help writing a good question, see How to Ask. – MetaEd Jul 8 '16 at 15:31
  • a better synonym for coeval is coincident, and a better synonym for coterminous is coextensive – user180089 Jul 8 '16 at 15:39
  • An easy way to reopen this question, is to edit and cite those thesauruses which claim the two terms are synonymous. And cite their definitions using an online dictionary, not Google.. – Mari-Lou A Jul 9 '16 at 7:34

They are not synonyms. With reference to time coeval refers to the same "historical" period, while coterminous refers to a period of time with the same length.

Coterminous from Vocabulary.com:

  • Use the word coterminous to describe things that are equal in scope. If an earthquake in Australia was coterminous with the earthquake in China, that means it caused the same amount of destruction.
  • The adjective coterminous derives from the Latin word conterminus, meaning "bordering upon, having a common b." When something is coterminous, it has the same boundaries, or is of equal extent or length of time as something else. The expansion of the American Old West was coterminous with the expansion of the Great American Frontier. Your mayor's term in office might be conterminous with increased access to social services.

Coeval from Vocabulary.com:

  • When two things live or happen during the same period of time, they are coeval. If you annotate an old poem, the annotations and the text of the poem are not coeval.
  • The word coeval comes from the Latin co- "jointly" or "in common" and aevum "age." The beginning of Major League Baseball is coeval with the invention of the telephone. People can be coeval, though more often you'll hear contemporary used to describe people who are about the same age. You and your contemporaries probably view the world a lot differently than your grandparents' generations.
  • +1 but please cite your sources. – Mari-Lou A Jul 9 '16 at 7:37
  • @Mari Lou A - this is not GR, how many user know how and know how to properly use coterminous? – user66974 Jul 9 '16 at 10:05
  • I didn't vote to close the question. I also upvoted your answer. But it is not enough for someone to say "I looked in a thesaurus, and I am confused". I gave the OP some very good advice on how he might reopen his question. Lets see if he does edit his question. – Mari-Lou A Jul 9 '16 at 10:09
  • The two terms are arcane to say the least, and I had no idea what they meant, hence I upvoted your answer. But there are hundreds of words out there which the majority of users on EL&U probably don't know the meaning of, that doesn't mean the OP's question any good! And what's more, the OP is most likely an ask-and-run user. – Mari-Lou A Jul 9 '16 at 10:12
  • Well, I am familiar with coeval but not with coterminous, there are apparent similarities when they refer to time but they convey different meanings, hence my answer. – user66974 Jul 9 '16 at 10:17

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