Is there a technical term for the relationship between a word and its equivalents in other languages? I thought of cognate, but don't think it quite works, as cognates could include words like chief and chef which aren't in fact synonymous, and would exclude words which have the same meaning in different languages but have no etymological connection (like "hombre" and "man" in this case). Obviously "equivalent" does the job, but is there a more precise linguistic term? Something like transynonym, perhaps?


1 Answer 1


The word "translation" is suitable here. The word "translation" means "a rendering from one language into another" or "the product of such a rendering" according to Merriam-Webster, which "hombre", "homme", and "man" certainly are.

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    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 5:33
  • I don't think translation quite works. Yes, we can say '"hombre" is a translation of "man"', but we don't use "translation" to say "these words are translations" in the way we might call two words synonyms. Also, as your M-W quote shows, "translation" suggests a conscious act of rendering, I'm really talking about accidental examples of "parallel evolution" within two languages, situations where two languages both have a word for the same thing. I suppose "equivalent" or "counterpart" is the best we can get, if there isn't a technical term already in existence. Thanks for your help, anyway.
    – charmeth
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 14:19
  • How about "analogue" or maybe even "complement"?
    – Dapianoman
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 20:42

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