The synonyms for "love" include: "affection", "passion", "yearning" and so on. In relation to its synonyms what would the word "love" be referred to as?

Example Sentence:

The synonyms of "love" are affection, passion and yearning.

Now the incomplete sentence:

The word "Love" is the [insert word here] of affection, passion and yearning.

I am trying to think of a word that would help me establish a reverse relation. However all I could come up with are words and phrases like "Source", "Target of synonyms" and so on.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a misconception. No single member of a set of synonyms is regarded as prototypical. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:35
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    @EdwinAshworth Isn't it worth correcting the misconception (especially in case others have it)?
    – SteveES
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:39
  • @ SteveES Certainly. That's what 'comments' are for. / The overlap of synonyms, and commutivity, has already been discussed in previous threads. Repeating material every time a similar question is submitted isn't good housekeeping. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:42
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    @EdwinAshworth I hadn't realised that it had been discussed before. Do you have links? And surely that would make it a duplicate?
    – SteveES
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 10:00
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    @SteveES See Do synonyms {always mean} exactly ... the same {as each other}? for an overview of synonymity, Are synonyms always bidirectional? for the commutivity of the 'is a synonym of' relationship W1~W2 // and see this discussion of the extent of overlap of senses in a particular case. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


As far as I'm aware, there is no such word. The existence of such a word would rely upon a one-way, or hierarchical relationship between synonyms, which is not the case; synonyms are reversible.

If word B is a synonym of word A, then word A is also a synonym of word B (although sometimes in fewer contexts). (For most words at least) word A was not "the original meaning" from which word B arose. It therefore doesn't make sense to suggest the existence of a parent-child relationship between synonyms.

You should probably change your sentence to:

The word "Love" has the synonyms affection, passion and yearning.


Affection, passion and yearning are all synonyms for love.

  • Thank you for your explanation. Much appreciated! This definitely clarifies a lot for me.
    – AmatuerDev
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:34
  • If A and B are synonyms, there are contexts where A and B may be interchanged with no or negligible change in meaning. Definition. It may well be possible to use A in more contexts overall than B, but saying 'B is also a synonym of A, but to a lesser degree' is incorrect. / It is a duplicate (if one can decide on a valid question hidden behind the misconception). Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:35
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    @EdwinAshworth That was what I was trying to get at by saying "to a lesser degree", I guess I perhaps mean "in fewer contexts". E.g. if one word encompasses more meaning/has a more generic definition, like table and furniture, or ants and insects.
    – SteveES
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:47

In some paper thesauri, a list of synonyms starts with a headword. This is mainly an organisational feature rather than a linguistic one, but tends to be a fairly common word that's also a good synonym for the rest of the list. For example, Roget's (arbitrary edition found online)

492. Scholar. --- N Scholar, connoisseur, savant, pundit...

Unfortunately this is a better fit to the question title than the example, but may explain what you're thinking of.

  • Thank you for shedding light on headwords. That is something new to me.
    – AmatuerDev
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:27

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