Some reflections on the phraseological synonyms in English | Статья в журнале «Филология и лингвистика»

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Рубрика: Вопросы переводоведения

Опубликовано в Филология и лингвистика №2 (6) июнь 2017 г.

Дата публикации: 05.06.2017

Статья просмотрена: 57 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Туланбаева Ш. Ш., Исмоилова Б. В. Some reflections on the phraseological synonyms in English // Филология и лингвистика. — 2017. — №2. — С. 81-83. — URL (дата обращения: 27.05.2018).

Interest in phraseology has grown considerably over the last twenty years or so. The term “phraseology” was introduced by Charles Bally who studied French Stylistics and regarded phraseology as a part of this science. Since his book “Precis de stylistique” (1905) was published and translated into various languages, a lot of research on phraseological units has been conducted.

In the Russian school of thoughts Academician V. Vinogradov described Phraseology in his book “The Russian Language” (1974). He was the first to work out the classification of Russian phraseological units, which gave rise to extensive

investigation of phraseology in other languages. After that phraseological units were studied from the point of view of their semantics, structure, and complexity. Kunin (1970) wrote, “a phraselogical unit is a stable combination of words with a fully or partially figurative meaning”.

Since that time much has been done in the field of phraseology. The sole scholarly society for the furtherance of research in phraseology, the European Society of Phraseology “Europhras” was founded at the end of the twentieth century to coordinate the investigations of scientists from different countries and even continents. Each year international conferences are held which are devoted to the problems of phraseology.

It is well-known that synonyms can be defined as two or more words of the same language, belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable at least in some contexts, without any alteration on the denotational meaning, but differing in the morphemic composition, phonemic shape, shades of meaning, connotations, affective value, style, valency and idiomatic use.

Absolute phraseological synonyms are very rare in the language. E.g.: be in the secret — be in the secret; keep under lock and key — keep under watch and ward; take advantage of something — seize advantage of something; tell a lie — lie in one’s throat — spin a lie — lie one’s head off — tell a story — lie out of the whole cloth — spin a yarn — tell an untruth.

In the course of time absolute synonyms come to have either a different shade of meaning or different usage. If two words exactly coincide in meaning and use the natural tendency is for one of them to change its meaning or drop out of the language.

Phraseological synonyms differ from each other in shades of meaning.

Synonyms of this kind are very numerous in the English language. In such synonyms we can easily find the general and the particular. Thus all the synonyms express the concept in all its many-sided variety and completeness.

Not all phraseological synonyms are of the same kind. We can distinguish between those which are very close in their meanings (for ever — for good (and all) — for keeps; go to bed — go to roost — hit the high — hit the sack) synonyms which differ in meaning considerably.

Among verbs we find phraseological synonyms which differ in the manner of the action expressed by the verb: give somebody a surprise (the synonymic dominant — surprise somebody), make somebody open his eyes (extremely astonish somebody), make somebody sit up (very surprise somebody, wow), take somebody’s breath away (unpleasantly surprise somebody).


“Well, so there you are, Gulley” she said. “Fancy. You did give me a surprise. And I was just in a twitter lest you might say something to Byles.” (Durell L.)


A: “Isn’t it splendid? I have not only come out top of the list but I’ve got the largest scholarship as well.”(Jones L.)

B: “Magnificent! That’ll make your family open their eyes, won’t it! They always used to regard you as the dunce!”


A: “Have you got a lawyer?”

B: “Not yet.”

A: “I’ll send you mine. He’ll make them sit up!”(Galsworthy J.)


The unexpected news of this fresh piece of munificence has taken our breath away. (Ogilvie V.)

Synonyms can differ in the degree of a given quality, in the intensity of the

action performed or the intensity of the emotions: rain cats and dogs — rain in buckets — rain in torrents — rain like hell — rain pitchforks

Synonyms can differ in the volume of the concept they express: keep silence — hold one’s gab — hold one’s jaw — hold |shut (up) |one’s noise — hold one’s peace — hold one’s tongue — hold one’s whist — keep one’s breath — keep one’s face| head shut — keep one’s moth — keep one’s tongue between one’s teeth — keep one’s yap shut |shut one’s yap|.

Phraseological synonyms can replace each other in some combinations but are not interchangeable in others. Use and benefit are synonyms in such expressions as public use, public benefit whereas they are no longer synonyms and cannot replace each other in expressions like Ihave no use for such books, or He was given the benefit of the doubt.


  1. Kunin, Alexandr. 1984. English-Russian phraseological dictionary. Moscow: Russky Yazyk.
  2. Kunin, Alexandr. 1996. Kurs frazeologii sovremennogo angliiskogo yazyka. Moscow: Vysshaya shkola, Dubna: Izdatel ’sky tsentr “Fenix ”.
  3. Kamenetskayte.1971. Sinonimi v angliyskoy frazeologii. Moscow.
Основные термины (генерируются автоматически): phraseological synonyms, somebody, Absolute phraseological synonyms, phraseology, time absolute synonyms, extremely astonish somebody, phraseological units, surprise somebody, partially figurative meaning, Academician V. Vinogradov, Russian phraseological units, identical denotational meanings, sole scholarly society, lie — lie, French Stylistics, Charles Bally, Russian Language, rain pitchforks, various languages, Russian school.


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