Broadly speaking, it means "put together from other things". Usually used to refer to chemicals that were cooked up from scratch rather than extracted from some organism. Clueless people will sometimes use synthetic as a synonym for bad and an antonym for natural, good, and healthy. Let's clear this up once and for all: "synthetic" refers to how something is obtained, not necesserily to its inherent properties or health effects.

In logic, not true by meaning of its component terms alone but by virtue of observation and not resulting in self-contradiction with denial.

Compare: analytic

Synthetic language

A language in which grammatical relationships are mainly expressed with inflections and clarifying morphemes, as opposed to their opposite, analytic languages.

In synthetic languages, individual words are very precise about their context, so word order can be very free. Poetically, this allows some expressiveness, with greater scope for hyperbaton.

Most Slavic languages are highly synthetic, examples including Russian, Czech and Polish. Latin is also highly synthetic, hence Romanes Eunt Domus.

The term synthetic language is also applied to a family of constructed languages, designed for purposes of investigation rather than to be any use as languages per se. This usage is uncommon.

Translating a single word from a synthetic language into English can often require an entire English sentence. An example of a word from a synthetic language is qasuirrsarvigssarsingitluinarnarpuq . This word contains ten morphemes and is used in the Inuktituk language to mean "someone who did not find a completely suitable resting place" (Bonvillain 1997:19).

Syn*thet"ic (?), Syn*thet"ic*al (?), a. [Gr. : cf. F. synth'etique.]


Of or pertaining to synthesis; consisting in synthesis or composition; as, the synthetic method of reasoning, as opposed to analytical.

Philosophers hasten too much from the analytic to the synthetic method; that is, they draw general conclusions from too small a number of particular observations and experiments. Bolingbroke.

2. Chem.

Artificial. Cf. Synthesis, 2.

3. Zool.

Comprising within itself structural or other characters which are usually found only in two or more diverse groups; -- said of species, genera, and higher groups. See the Note under Comprehensive, 3.

Synthetic, ∨ Synthetical language, an inflectional language, or one characterized by grammatical endings; -- opposed to analytic language. R. Morris.


© Webster 1913.

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