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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 obtain the same results in your commerce store. Usually, these terms have a similar meaning for shoppers and can be used interchangeably. For example, “billfold” might be a synonym for “wallet”.

Shoppers sometimes obtain unmeaningful results or no results at all because the search term used when looking for something doesn’t match any text in your product catalogue. That situation can be avoided in an easy and effective way by using queries with a similar meaning to a term that appears in your catalogue, namely, synonyms.

Therefore, synonyms are the best solution for those search queries that do not return product results or return only a few of them.


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, for example, any searches for “crimson” also return results containing “red”, and vice versa.
  • One-way match terms, where terms only match in one direction, for example, “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 they can impact product relevance. You can create and manage synonyms via the Synonymize management tool.


Use the Playboard Synonymize management tool to add and change synonyms and synonym groups for your search.

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Synonym suggestions with Semantics API

Semantics API is an Empathy Platform API that exposes all the possibilities of the vector and semantic understanding to apply to the Empathy Platform Playboard tooling. Among other purposes, it's used to suggest relevant and semantically similar terms that can be directly applied to your commerce search configurations to offer more valuable and relevant experiences to your shoppers considering their semantic intent.

Semantics API is an Empathy Platform API that you can use to generate synonym suggestions. You can apply the synonym suggestions to your commerce search configuration and offer a valuable experience to your shoppers.

Imagine the AI/ML model that this functionality uses places the query entered as the center point of a little universe. Then, the Semantics API will explore near neighbors, where similar terms in regard to semantic similarity and intent will be closer and so proposed as good potential synonyms.

Instead of using pre-trained models that get and store the shoppers’ private data, the Empathy Platform Semantics API uses anonymized behavioral information (queries, clicks, add to cart, etc.) obtained from the shoppers’ interactions with your commerce store, which is collected using the Tagging microservices. In addition, the Semantics API uses the data from your product catalogue. As a result, we keep the customer’s data privacy bubble and we don't cross domains to use our customers' information to enrich other customers' experiences.

The Semantics API is helpful for synonym use cases because it might:

  • Detect structures that mean the same (for example, “sugarless” = sugar-free, no sugar, zero sugar) and other structures with similarities (such as “low sugar”) to propose alternative results if there are few results to display.
  • Detect similarities in sizes—large = big—or other denominations that may depend on the category.
  • Detect similarities in colors. For example, pale = light on color shades, or baby blue = light blue for specific colors.

Thanks to the Semantics API, you can configure relevant synonyms for problematic queries, such as queries with no results or a few of them. When typing the original query you want to configure a synonym for in the Synonymize management tool of the Empathy Platform Playboard, a maximum of ten suggested terms are displayed to speed up and simplify your tasks. The position of the suggested terms determines their relation with the entered query since terms in first positions are closer to the original term and so on in decreasing relation.


Check the Semantics API technical documentation to know more about how to get semanticaly related query suggestions based on AI-powered vector models.

Use Synonyms for...

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


You don't need to use Synonyms for basic pluralization rules (such as t-shirt for t-shirts) or related forms of the same term (like 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, for example, “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.