20 Synonyms for “Type”

By Mark Nichol

Which type of word is suitable for referring to a type of person, place, or thing? Type will do, but plenty of alternatives, some with distinct and vivid connotations, are available. Here is a list of synonyms for type with connotations and sample sentences.

1. Bent: From the sense of “inclination,” this word has developed a figurative meaning closer to “bias” or “talent” but is also suitable as a substitute for type: “People of that bent will be bored here.”

2. Breed: Besides the functional use of this term to refer to types of animals within a single species, it may also be used figuratively to refer to someone with a previously described or implicit set of qualities: “Sadly, a person of that breed is hard to find these days.”

3. Character: This word applies in references to a person’s qualities or traits: “A man of that character will go far in this world.”

4. Class: Class is a general word for a grouping based on a predetermined set of characteristics, either rigorously or loosely applied: “As expected, the expert-class competition drew the largest audience”; “These are first-class accommodations.” However, it may also apply in discussions of socioeconomic level or quality of character: “Someone of that class probably wouldn’t appreciate it anyway.”

5. Description: This word usually applies to references to physical appearance: “Someone of that description was seen loitering downtown yesterday.”

6. Feather: Among many connotations for feather is the figurative expression “Birds of a feather flock together,” and it is in a related sense that the word is occasionally used as a synonym for type: “I need an accountant, or someone of that feather, to help me with my finances.”

7. Genre: Genre is confined to references to types of creative endeavors: “That genre of music is well past its heyday.”

8. Grade: This term is used in evaluative contexts: “We sell only the best grade of diamonds and fine jewelry.”

9. Ilk: Ilk originally had a specific genealogical sense, but this connotation relaxed to the point that the phrase “of that ilk” is synonymous with “of that type”: “Others of that ilk populated the vicinity.”

10. Kidney: This rare synonym for type suggests a reference to someone’s temperament: “If he’s of that kidney, he’ll be able to take the stress.”

11. Kind: Kind is the most likely synonym for type: “I never said anything of the kind”; “That kind of attitude will get you nowhere.”

12. Like: Among various uses of like as a noun, it means “people of that type”: “She and her like are up to no good.”

13. Lot: This word is often used in a derogatory reference to a group: “You don’t want to hang around with that lot.”

14. Manner: This word is employed in the sense of “style” or “approach”: “Her manner of speaking is grating.”

15. Nature: Nature, as a synonym for type, refers to a person or animal exhibiting certain characteristics: “A person of that nature isn’t to be trusted.”

16. Persuasion: In addition to its primary sense regarding inducement, persuasion is employed to refer to a personality trait or a lifestyle choice: “Someone of the politically correct persuasion would say something like that.”

17. Rank: This word for a type that denotes attainment of a grade or level of achievement also has a figurative sense: “He’s a gentleman of the first rank.”

18. Set: Set applies formally to any grouping on the basis of selected criteria, but it also connotes association with a certain type of people: “He likes to hang out with the smart set.”

19. Strain: This synonym for type suggests a fine distinction or an idiosyncrasy: “Our conversations were of a surreal strain.”

20. Stripe: This idiomatic synonym for type may derive from the use of stripes and other insignia to distinguish adherents of one member of the nobility from another. The sense persists in occasional modern usage: “Anyone of his political stripe would agree.”

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4 Responses to “20 Synonyms for “Type””

  • Ray

    Kidney, really, can’t recall ever seeing that word used it that way. If I had I would have read it as a gross typo on the writers part, perhaps they were trying to type kind……..

  • Curtis

    Shouldn’t the word ‘quality’ be in this list?

  • Sally

    ‘Kidney’ is a new one on me!

    You are probably correct when you attribute ‘stripe’ to marks of rank, although I would suggest that it relates more to military rank in armies based on the British army where no stripes = private, one stripe = lance-corporal/bombardier, three stripes = sergeant. Or perhaps it refers to the cuff stripes of the 1902 uniform. If one wants to tie it to social rank, one could associate it with the cuff lacings of the British uniform of the period 1760-1810, at which time high ranking officers were also likely to be members of the old feudal nobility.

    I have often thought that it could be rhyming slang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhyming_slang) for ‘type,’ especially if you consider that here in Australia we say that something is of a certain “colour and stripe.” I have often had to stop myself using the entire phrase when speaking to USans because of the fraught associations of ‘colour’ and race in that country.

    And, of course, ‘race’ is another word for ‘type.’

    [I find the term ‘race’ ridiculous – we’re all mongrels, especially here in Australia – and I think ‘Caucasian’ as a euphemism for ‘white’ is patently ludicrous. When people ask me my race, I say ‘human’!]

  • Don K.

    I cannot think of any case in which I have seen “ilk” used without a pejorative connotation. Is this just “luck of the draw” or am I on to something?

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