Quora – What is the difference between two words that have the same meaning?

Read James Brooksanswer to What is the difference between two words that have the same meaning? on Quora

This question is very difficult to answer because you have not mentioned a specific pair of words. There are many reasons why there might be two words for the same thing, including:

  1. One word is more formal than the other (e.g. the verbs manufacture vs make up)
  2. One word comes from one language and the other from another language (e.g. construct [Latin] vs build [Germanic])
  3. One word comes from one word in a language and the other from another word in the same language (e.g. produce vs create [both from Latin])
  4. One word might be a word used for a long time in English (i.e. originated in English or came to the language through the usual French/Latin or German/Old Norse routes during its development) while the other is a newcomer (e.g. armoury [from Old French to Middle English] vs arsenal [Italian from the 16th century])
  5. One word is used more often in an everyday context than the other (e.g. chew vs. masticate)
  6. One word is used more in a technical/specialist context than the other (e.g. chew vs. masticate)
  7. The two words may generally have the same meaning generally but have slight differences (e.g. bread vs naan)

I am sure there are other reasons that I have not listed but are not coming to mind at the moment. Because of this, we need more information about which set of words you want to compare and contrast.

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