Definition of synthetic in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /sinˈTHedik/


1(Of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product: synthetic rubber
More example sentences
  • The chemicals which comprise synthetic drugs are natural.
  • When carried out in hydrocarbon solvent, this reaction produces a synthetic rubber similar to natural rubber.
  • Mixtures of several synthetic dyes, or mixtures of natural and synthetic dyes, could produce more subdued colors.
1.1(Of an emotion or action) not genuine; insincere: their tears are a bit synthetic
More example sentences
  • While some musicians endeavor to muster whatever synthetic emotions their contract requires, he prefers to let things come naturally.
  • And the fact they're guided by newspaper editors, who know very well what the real world is like, but choose to ignore this in favour of manufactured indignation and synthetic outrage.
  • He loved her with all that he was; how could this emotion be synthetic?
artificial, fake, imitation, faux, mock, simulated, ersatz, substitute;
pseudo, so-called;
man-made, manufactured, fabricated
informal phony, pretend
2 Logic (Of a proposition) having truth or falsity determinable by recourse to experience. Compare with analytic.
Example sentences
  • Kant held that, even though most mathematical propositions are synthetic, they are knowable a priori - independent of sensory experience.
  • The theory that existence is not a predicate implies, however, that all existential propositions are synthetic.
  • Analytic propositions like synthetic propositions, can be believed for bad reasons, or for no reasons at all, and, when this occurs, we should deny that the believer knows the propositions in question.
3 Linguistics (Of a language) characterized by the use of inflections rather than word order to express grammatical structure. Contrasted with agglutinative and analytic.
Example sentences
  • Inflected languages are a variety of synthetic language in which a word takes various forms, most usually by the addition of suffixes, which show its role in the sentence.
  • Albanian is a synthetic language that is similar in structure to most other Indo-European languages.
  • Over time, synthetic languages have become more analytic, with the effect that inflexional morphology has repeatedly been simplified.


(often synthetics)
A synthetic material or chemical, especially a textile fiber.
Example sentences
  • Twentieth century technology has opened up a treasure of textures and materials from space age synthetics to hand-woven straws.
  • Surpluses persisted, however, thanks to greater foreign production and the increased use of synthetics in textile manufacturing.
  • Knits are available in 100 percent cotton, blends and synthetics, including microfibers and performance fibers.



Example sentences
  • They are derived from a novel technique known as ‘synthetical statistical estimation’: they ‘reflect expected values for the topics under investigation… and should not be regarded as absolute or exact’.
  • Kant also agreed with Hume that synthetical a priori judgments could not be applied to metaphysics, but asking such question points to the fact that reason has a ‘regulative’ use.
  • And thus the synthetical unity of apperception is the highest point with which we must connect every operation of the understanding, even the whole of logic, and after it our transcendental philosophy; indeed, this faculty is the understanding itself.


Pronunciation: /sinˈTHedək(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • Originally made from the bark of a willow tree, today it is made synthetically.
  • The pharmaceutical industry uses a lot of liquorice because it is one of the few products that can not be synthetically reproduced.
  • He had developed a pill, containing synthetically produced versions of the hormones oestrogen and progestin, which would suppress ovulation apparently without side-effects.


Late 17th century: from French synthétique or modern Latin syntheticus, from Greek sunthetikos, based on suntithenai 'place together'.

Words that rhyme with synthetic

aesthetic (US esthetic), alphabetic, anaesthetic (US anesthetic), antithetic, apathetic, apologetic, arithmetic, ascetic, athletic, balletic, bathetic, cosmetic, cybernetic, diabetic, dietetic, diuretic, electromagnetic, emetic, energetic, exegetic, frenetic, genetic, Helvetic, hermetic, homiletic, kinetic, magnetic, metic, mimetic, parenthetic, pathetic, peripatetic, phonetic, photosynthetic, poetic, prophetic, prothetic, psychokinetic, splenetic, sympathetic, syncretic, syndetic, telekinetic, theoretic, zetetic

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: syn·thet·ic

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.