True synonyms

Posted by Henry on February 03, 2005

In Reply to: True synonyms posted by ESC on February 03, 2005

: : : : I seem to remember reading somewhere that the only true synonyms in English are 'Gorse, furze and whin' which all mean exactly the same thing (a yellow-flowered shrub common in Europe, officially known as Ulex europaeus) and have no other meaning and are always completely interchangeable.

: : : : Can anyone think of any other words which mean precisely the same thing on every occasion, without even the slightest nuance of a difference?

: : : : DFG

: : : Nil and zero? Twelve and dozen? Selfish and Republican?

: : A slight nuance of difference between a puppy and a Democrat is that sooner or later, the puppy stops whining. GWB

: Nuance? Your vocabulary is improving.

There is an even slighter nuance in the use of furze, gorse and whin. Whilst they always share the same meaning, Fowler distinguishes whin as chiefly in use in Scotland, Ireland and the North of England.