from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A construction in which a form, such as a pronoun, differs in number but agrees in meaning with the word governing it, as in If the group becomes too large, we can split them in two.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A construction in which adherence to some element in the sense causes a departure from strict syntax, as in “Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ unto them.”

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In grammar and rhetoric, construction according to the sense, in violation of strict syntax.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Greek sunesis, union, understanding, from sunīenai, to understand, bring together : sun-, syn- + hīenai, to send, hurl; see yē- in Indo-European roots.



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  • It is odd that all the usage examples at this entry are from works of medieval moral theology (all but one from the "Summa"), where synesis denotes something different from its rhetorical meaning, which is the only meaning defined. No explanation of Aquinas' use of the term is given.

    March 15, 2014

  • It's one of those British caprices
    To see not the whole but the pieces.
    "The team are," they will say
    In their innocent way,
    Unaware they're committing synesis.

    March 15, 2014

  • Yeah, I was always explaining this (to myself) as a feature of collective nouns in BrE—one I somewhat miss in AmE. Thanks for the new term. :-)

    November 29, 2009

  • As, for example, in the phrase "My family are all coming home for Thanksgiving." See the Wikipedia entry for a full description.

    November 29, 2009

  • See constructio ad sensum.

    July 23, 2008