I am looking for a word that describes the relationship between two words that are not the same, are not used in lieu of the other, but are related in what they refer to.

Example, storm/monsoon. While monsoon may be substituted for storm occasionally, in a rather understated way, storm would not normally be substituted for monsoon.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, whether it’s suggestions or the information that no such word exists.

  • 1
    "Related" is good enough.
    – user21497
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 4:52
  • Note that there is always a degree of synonymy.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:48
  • "Absolute synonyms display an optimum degree of synonymy while partial synonyms display varying degrees thereof. [Hartmann: books.google.com/books?isbn=0859894843]
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:53
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/21335/14666
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:54

1 Answer 1



A hypernym is a more general case of a specific case. A monsoon is a kind of storm, but a storm is not a particular case of a monsoon. So 'storm' is a hypernym of 'monsoon'.

  • see also groups to which an item belongs
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:07
  • +1 and this also means that "monsoon" and "storm" are synonyms. A hypernym is a kind of synonym. Synonyms have similar meanings, but it is not necessary that they always be interchangeable.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:42
  • The kind of things the OP means to ask about seem more like siblings than hierarchies to me.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:45
  • I wouldn't think that "synonym" is a hypernym of "hypernym". :-) The conventional understanding of synonyms is that they have similar meanings, not a sub/super relationship. Sure, synonyms don't have to mean EXACTLY the same thing, there are shades of meaning and degrees of synonymousness. Like "big" and "large" are virtually interchangeable. I just found a list of synonyms that included "important" and "vital". I'd say, well, sort of. Depending on context, understanding of degree, etc. But "animal" is a hypernym of "Scottish terrier", and I don't think anyone would say that they are synonyms.
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 7:42
  • @Jay: but 'antonym' is the antonym of 'synonym'. And really they're all very closely related.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 17:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.