Is a synonym of a synonym a synonym of the first word?

For example: A synonym of Charisma is Personality. A synonym of Personality is Character.

Therefore, can we assume that Charisma and Character are synonyms of each other...?

Is the above a good example of when this in-direct synonym example proves to be correct?

  • 4
    No, because the overlap is almost never complete. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:10
  • 1
    Generally speaking, it would be a poor assumption.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:11
  • 2
    "Fast" means "attached". "Quick" means "fast". "Quick" also means "alive". Therefore "attached" means "alive"?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:13
  • 3
    There are no exact synonyms.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:35
  • 2
    A person with charisma usually is a character. Whether he/she has character is an entirely different question.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


Are charisma and character synonyms?

Charisma means being full of character, so in some sentences yes, but that is entirely coincidental of your reasoning.

Is every synonym of a word's synonym also a synonym of the first word?

No. This is because not every word has the same meaning, and many words have multiple meanings. Even if a word has 15 different synonyms, not all of those words hold exactly the same meaning. However, in certain contexts, many words are interchangeable with one another.

Example: Anger and rage are synonyms, they have almost the same meaning... until anger is being used as a verb. "You anger me." makes sense but "You rage me." does not. Rage has a different forn for that function, "enrage".

Because words may have considerable overlap and contextual interchangeability, we categorize them as synonyms of each other for their individual similarities. Because not every word has exactly the same meaning, they don't perfectly overlap with the same group of words. While a synonym of a synonym may also be a direct synonym of the first word, it would likely already be listed as such in a thesaurus if it were.

  • 1
    The last sentence sums it up well, and I think you can draw a further conclusion: if a thesaurus lists B as a synonym for A, and C as a synonym for B, but it does not list C as a synonym for A, it's probably safe to assume that C is not, in general, a synonym for A.
    – nohat
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 6:53
  • @nohat, This doesn't always seem to be the case. Using my example of Charisma and Character, neither appear as synonyms of each other despite Charisma meaning "full of character/has character/a character, etc).
    – M-R
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 23:54
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    @Martin Rand, I've found that different thesauruses don't always list all of the same words as being synonyms. I think it varies depending on how big their budget is, size constraints for the publication, staff expertise, available resources, etc. Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 1:27
  • 1
    @MartinRand Charisma is a specific and inherently positive attribute of a person, whereas character is more general and more neutral. I don't think that charisma and character are synonyms at all. There are certain contexts where you could use either word, but that doesn't make them synonyms.
    – nohat
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 16:35

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