perfect synonyms

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jul 10 15:42:57 UTC 2009

At 7/10/2009 10:50 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Years ago I revived the claim that the two most nearly synonymous words in
>English are "gorse" and "furze."  Not only do they designate the same
>referent; they are both monosyllabic and even bear a minor phonetic
>I can now reveal two comparably synonymous English words. They are
>so mundane, however, that no one will be impressed.
>The envelope please:
>"Flapjack" and "slapjack."
>Objection: whereas "gorse" and "furze" have the virtue of always meaning
>each other, "slapjack" can also mean "chamberpot."  At least that's what the
>late Fred Cassidy told me many years ago.
>Gorse/furze, flapjack/slapjack.  I guess it's...a toss-up.

Second objection:  slapjack is also a card game, with a literal
etymology.  In the OED.  (Although "chamberpot" isn't..)

Third objection:  I have a sense that "slapjack" can mean
"haphazard", although I don't find that in the OED.  Haven't looked elsewhere.


The American Dialect Society -

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