15+ Words with “syn” or a Variation

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The Greek prefix syn-, meaning “together,” and two alternative forms combine with many other word elements to form terms pertaining to community or unity. This post lists and briefly defines the most common of these words, along with literal definitions of the root word.

1. idiosyncrasy (“personal” and “blend”): a peculiarity or hypersensitivity
2. synagogue (“bring”): a Jewish congregation, or its headquarters
3. synapse (“fasten”): the junction of nervous impulses
4. synchronicity (“timing”): occurrence of events at the same time or same period, or coincidental occurrence of events
5. syncopation (“shortening”): musical rhythm that emphasizes the weak beat
6. syncretism (“federation of Cretan cities”): a combination of different forms
7. syndication (“act of judgment”): association of people or entities to sell something, or selling editorial content to multiple distributors or the state of being sold this way
8. syndrome (“run”): a set of things, such as signs or symptoms of a medical condition, that form a pattern
9. synecdoche (“interpret”): figure of speech substituting the part for the whole, or vice versa
10. synergy (“working”): combined action
11. synesthesia (“sense”): a sensation occurring with another, or a condition in which one experiences one sensation simultaneously with another
12. synonym (“name”): a word with one or more meanings identical or similar to one or more meanings of one or more words, or a word or phrase that embodies a concept or quality
13. synopsis (“be going to see”): an abstract or summary
14. syntax (“arrange”): the structure of linguistic elements, or harmonious arrangement of components
15. synthesis (“put”): something made by combining parts into a whole, digital reproduction of analog sounds, or deductive reasoning

When the prefix precedes b, m, or p, it is converted to sym, as in asymptote (“not falling”), symbiosis (“living”), symbol (“thrown”), symmetry (“measured”), sympathy (“feeling”), symphony (“sounding”), symposium (“drinking,” from the ancient Greek custom of discussing intellectual matters while drinking wine in a social setting), and symptom (“happening”), and when confronted with l, it changes to syl, as in syllable (“take”)— the similar-looking syllabus, derived from a misreading, is unrelated—and syllogism (“think”).

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14 thoughts on “15+ Words with “syn” or a Variation”

  1. Some more words, in decreasing order of importance:
    Synchronize, synchronous, asynchronous, bisynchronous, quasisynchronous, pseudosynchronous.
    “Gentlemen, synchronize your watches!”
    Synchronous telecommunications systems are extremely important, and there is another word for them: coherent.
    Asynchronous communication systems exist, but they are a lot less important because they do not perform as well.
    A lot of time “patterns” that people see in the world around them are actually pseudosynchronous — they are products of the imagination.

  2. In astronomy, there are quasisynchronous events in the sky, and there is a very interesting word for these: “syzygy”.

  3. We know that ATM means “automatic teller machine”.
    In computer networking, there is another kind of “ATM” that seems to have fallen out of favor — because it costs too much and it has other problems. This ATM means “asynchronous transfer mode”.
    In many ways, “ATM” is rather like the Holy Roman Empire: not holy, not Roman, and not an empire. Likewise, the DPRK is not democratic, not the people’s, and not a republic. It is purely and simply a cruel dictatorship.
    ATM is not really asynchronous.

  4. Synthetic is an adjective referring to something this is not made in the usual way, and in slang German, this is called “ersatz”. This word returned home along with American and Canadian troops from the Western Front of World War II.
    Ersatz petrol, ersatz gasoline, ersatz food, ersatz coffee, ersatz tea, ersatz liquor (similar to “moonshine”).
    Ersatz fuel for airplanes, tanks, trucks, etc., was made from coal, which is not the way to get it.
    Synthetic medicines are made in chemical factories instead of the usual way from molds, bacteria, plants, and animals. E.g. synthetic penicillin, synthetic opiates, etc. Likewise for synthetic rubber, which comes from factories instead of rubber plantations in Brazil and Southeast Asia.
    It also makes me think of why most British writers cannot write “Southeast Asia” or “Southeastern China”.

  5. In Marxist-Leninist reasoning (dialectical materialism), a “thesis” always interacts with an “antithesis” (which always arises) to produce a “synthesis”. Then the synthesis becomes a new thesis, and there always arises a new antithesis against it.
    It is little wonder that the Karl Marx Institute of Economics in East Berlin has long gone “kaput”, just as have East Berlin, East Germany, and “Karl Marx Stadt” near the Polish border. This has returned to its traditional name of Chemnitz, just as the places named Leningrad and Stalingrad have returned to their traditional names.
    Also, Dnieprosibursk has become simply “Dnipro”, and Ekaterinburg and Lvov have changed their names and spellings several times. Lvov has also changed its country several times – Polish, Russian, Belorussian, Lithuanian, whatever, and the languages are different.
    It is worse than if Detroit and Windsor had changed back and forth between the United States and Canada several times. At least they mostly speak English in both Michigan and Ontario, on both sides of the Detroit River.

  6. Correcting another mistake of mine:
    Ersatz fuel for airplanes, tanks, trucks, etc., was made from coal, which is not the USUAL way to get it.
    Ersatz = synthetic, and so they had
    ersatz fuel, ersatz food, ersatz drink, ersatz medicine, ersatz shoes.
    Also, Marxist-Leninist “dialectical materialism” is/was ersatz thinking.
    It was destined to collapse under its own weight, sooner or later.

  7. Also, interestingly, sympathy, and symbiosis. In those cases, sym is a form of syn and so also means “together”. In these words, “suffers together” and “lives together” respectively. It’s worth noting that forms get modified in such ways and so become confusable. E.g. the “in” in inflammable is a form of “en”, and in that instance does NOT mean not. Can be an important lesson.

  8. Speaking of simply phonetic equalities in the words, there was once a Filipino Roman Catholic cardinal whose name was Cardinal Sin !
    I saw him on TV once from when he was visiting the Vatican in Rome for a conclave, and maybe he still is a cardinal.
    So {syn, sin, and cyn}, and go and sin no more.
    Also, {sym sim, cym}, and give sympathy to the man in the band who has to stand/sit beside the player of the cymbals .
    “Sim” can be a nickname for a man named Simon, Simeon, or Simpson; and “Cyn” can be a nickname for a woman named Cynthia.

  9. In the world of communication, weather, and surveillance satellites, there are “geosynchronous” satellites, a.k.a. “geostationary”, and these are ones in equatorial orbits that take 24 hours for each orbit of the Earth. For some other purposes, there are satellites that are synchronized with orbital periods of 12 hours, to make two orbits for every day.
    For polar-orbiting satellites, there are “sun-synchronous” satellites, too. These have everything timed so that the satellite passes (close to) overhead of certain locations once per day. This gives the same illumination angle of those places daily for the cameras and other sensors. Sun-synchronous satellites have been put into orbit around the Earth and around Mars, and maybe a few other celestial bodies (Vesta? Ceres? Jupiter?).

  10. Speaking of sympathetic sounds and syllables, there are these names and sayings: “Simple Simon met a pie-man…”,
    and a villain in a TV show: “Simon bar Sinister”.
    The latter was similar to another character: “Snidely Whiplash”.
    Sylvester the Cat was known to say “Suffering succotash!”
    It all seems to be synergistic, or is it simply syzygy?
    Going into technology there are such things as stellar
    synchronization systems.

  11. I resorted to the Internet, but it gave me mostly words that I knew already: synchronous, asynchronous, bisynchronous, geosynchronous, pseudosynchronous, and quasisynchronous, but it added these: nonsynchronous and subsynchronous.
    Nonsynchronous is merely a synonym for asynchronous. I guess that it is a word for people who don’t know about words like these:
    {abiotic, achromatic, anormal, apart, aperiodic, arrhythmic, asocial, asymmetric, atonal}. Interestingly, achromatic, arrhythmic, and atonal can all refer to certain kinds of music.

  12. Also, in canonical matters, there are the so called “synoptic gospels”. That word means “one eye” or “from one point of view”. These are the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and they basically tell the same story. Then I have been told that the gospel of John is different in many ways. There is also the canonical word “Synod”.
    It is impossible to grow up Down South w/o being exposed to such things by the Baptists, Church of Christers, Lutherans, Methodists, Nazarenes, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, etc.

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