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Liza
Dear native speakers of English, could you explan the difference in meaning between some words? These words are synonyms, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: tantamount and equivalent; devise and invent; obstacle and barrier
Jan 8, 2016 12:38 PM
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They are all synonymous but that doesn't mean they are used in quite the same way. A lot depends on context and I can't possibly cover all the possible differences but perhaps this will be helpful. Tantamount is often used to suggest equivalence when things are not actually the same or equal (equivalent) - it's an assertion of equivalence that may or may not be reasonable or true. It is often used to compare a persons actions or speech to something that is similar but actually more serious - "His radical speeches and flag burning protests are tantamount to treason!" and "his statement was tantamount to an admission of guilt" but actually these sort of things are often not equivalent; devise and invent; again not really true synonyms - devise is to find a clever, perhaps inventive solution to a problem but to invent really implies the creation of something new and original. obstacle and barrier - I think these are still pretty close in meaning and would be true synonyms. Just curious, when was the dictionary your using published, or did you get this online?
January 8, 2016
Good question Liza. You are an advanced learner I assume? In which case I suspect you know that context is crucial? All three examples are synonyms in certain, limited circumstances. So you can use 'tantamount' to mean the same as 'equivalent' in some contexts, but not all. This is true of 'devise' and 'invent', and also 'obstacle' and 'barrier'. Would you like to have a go at using these words in context, and native speakers (myself included) can comment on if you are using them correctly, or would you prefer it if I explained more first? Kind regards Chris
January 8, 2016
Check the etymology; then it's as clear as day. www.etymonline.com
January 8, 2016
Liza
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English