Synonyms overview

I need “garbage bags”...
Results for “trash sacks” – that’s what I really meant!

Synonyms are alternative search terms that shoppers can use to find the same results. Usually these terms have a similar meaning for shoppers and can be used interchangeably. For example, “billfold” might be a synonym for “wallet”.

Synonyms are the best solution for those search queries that do not return products because the search term entered does not match any text in your product catalogue but has a similar meaning of a term that does appear in your catalogue.


Types of synonyms
Empathy Platform handles two types of synonyms:

  • Equivalent terms, meaning that there is a one-to-one equal match relationship between the terms, i.e. any searches for “crimson” also return results containing “red”, and vice versa.
  • One-way match terms, where terms only match in one direction, i.e. “food storage box” may return results like “food container” and “tupperware”, but “tupperware” only returns results containing that exact brand name.


Synonyms should be used with caution according to your specific business case as it can impact product relevance. You can create and manage synonyms in the Empathy Playboard.

Use Synonyms for...

  • Differences in language variants, e.g. American English “pants” vs. British English “trousers”.
  • Broad terms versus narrower terms, e.g. “backpack” for “office backpack”, “commuter backpack”, “laptop backpack”, “school backpack”, and “work backpack”.
  • Trademarks used for generic products, e.g. “tupperware” for “food storage boxes”.
  • Multiple words for the same meaning or usage, e.g. “tee shirt”, “t-shirt”, “t shirt”, “tshirt”, “tee”.
  • Category names, e.g. “sneakers”, “runners”, and “training shoes” for the “sports shoes” category.
  • Abbreviations, e.g. “HP” for “Hewlett Packard”.
  • Short versions for product names, e.g. “coke” for “coca-cola”.
  • Slang or specific jargon, e.g. “lewk” or “OOTD” for “outfit”.
  • Correction of misspelled words where the distance between the misspelled word and the desired word is greater than that managed by Spell Check, e.g. “sorts” instead of “shorts”, or “ifone” instead of “iphone”.
  • Plurals with irregular patterns, e.g. man for men.


You do not need to use Synonyms for basic pluralization rules (e.g. t-shirt for t-shirts) or related forms of the same term (e.g. waist for waisted) as Empathy Platform search microservice handles these variations in the term. In any case, you should test the results obtained with such plural forms.


Terms are matched against synonyms in the exact order in which they appear. For example, to provide results for the synonym pair “high top pants = high waisted trousers”, shoppers must search for that exact search term and not any other combination, i.e. “trousers high waisted” does not provide synonym matching.

Try Synonyms to…

  • Redirect shoppers to qualified results where the search term doesn’t appear in your product catalogue.
  • Enrich shoppers’ search queries with more results that may be relevant to their search.
  • Show the right results for typos and misspelled words that can’t be easily corrected with Spell Check.
  • Improve findability by multiple ways of searching for products.


Use the Playboard Synonymize tool to add and modify the synonyms and group synonyms for your search.

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