I need some more synonymous constructions for equal, identical, the same in context such as Models A and B performed essentially equal on task X. Is on par a valid replacement for equal/ identical/ the same here, or is on par only suited for informal contexts?

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    It's on a par (with), and it certainly doesn't mean "equal, identical, the same"; it's far more approximate. The examples at that link seem neither particularly colloquial nor formal.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 13:33
  • @AndrewLeach equal can also mean approximately equal depending on the context. In my context equal is an approximate equal and thus semantically synonymous to on par. The preposition with also can be dropped depending on the construction. A performed on par with B but A and B performed on par are both valid construction. Also: I put essentially equal in my example, to emphasis the approximate equality. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:04
  • Depending on if use is adjectival or adverbial, "on par with" means "equivalent(ly) to" in the sense of "on or at the same level as." I'm not sure what you're getting at with "colloquial," though. If you're asking if it's used in the vernacular, i.e., whether it's a common expression, then know that it is. If you're asking if you can use it in a formal setting, then the answer's iffy. While it literally means "equality in standing," it's not uncommon for people associating "par" with golf to perceive it as a sports metaphor, and sports metaphors are frowned upon as sexist in formal settings. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 16:45
  • To be clear, "on par with" isn't a sports metaphor or even a metaphor at all. That means that it technically qualifies for full acceptance in formal communication. However, what is actually accepted in settings where formal communication is required, like professional settings, isn't based on technicalities but is based on perceptions. If a phrase is perceived or just could predictably be perceived as being offensive, even if incorrectly, then it is to be avoided. In formal communication, the standard isn't just the avoidance of evil but also the avoidance of the appearance of evil. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 16:56
  • @BenjaminHarman What on earth does Golf/ sports have to do with sexism...? Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


Here's an example from The United States Surgeon General's Report in 1999:

It is a work of real significance, on par with the Surgeon General's historic first report on smoking and health published in 1964.

And another, from a 1975 publication on the Constitutional Protection of Equality:

This was justified by the functional difference between the father and the mother of an illegitimate child in case of absence of a family; the mother is then responsible for personal care, which is on par with financial support, but the father can ...

In neither of these cases is it seen in a "colloquial" sense; rather, it's seen in a serious, not to say sobersided, publication.

Note, however, that it has only recently come to the fore—and not quite to the fore, really, since the synonymous phrase "commensurate with," though in decline, still eclipses it by a wide margin.

Edit, thanks to Tim Lymington:

As Tim correctly notes, "on a par with" is much more common than "on par with." It's essentially the same usage, though, and occurs in such non-colloquial works as a translation of Aquinas's Summa Theologicae.

  • I have only heard the phrase as "on a par with": I suspect it's merely a matter of idiom. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:16
  • @TimLymington: Yes, and thanks. I've added that to the answer.
    – Robusto
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 16:18
  • on par with [noun] or on a par with [noun] just to be precise.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 17:07

Just to clear out a common misconception beforehand: as opposed to many people's claims, "par" does not originate from golf. "Par" is a loanword from Latin that means "equal" and the word itself is used in most of the Latin languages (and also in Dutch as "paar") to signify 2 equal things, a pair.

For the "on par" expression: according to the Cambridge Dictionary "on par" is a standard (not colloquial or technical) and is listed as a common expression in Business English, as well as the derived expression "subpar" meaning "below average" or "below expected standard".

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    on par with means more like "at the same level" or "in the same range as" but not necessarily equal or identical. This answer, as written, may be misleading.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 14:30
  • @Jim That is why I put essentially equal in my example. Meaning approximately equal. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:05
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    @lotolmencre - "essentially" does not mean "approximately" it means "in essence" which essentially means they can be treated as equal in some context for some purpose.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:12
  • @Jim Yes, and in some contexts, such as mine, performing essentially equal is constituted by performing approximately equal. Thus the words are interchangeable in my context. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:16
  • @Jim good point. The "equal" in the sentence refers to "loanword", so I'm saying that "par" in Latin means equal and that meaning carries into the Latin languages (and Dutch). I'm not talking about the "on par with" expression as a whole, just clearing out a common misconception (of "on par" meaning same level or range originating from golf) beforehand. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 16:24

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