Journal of Chaohu University ›› 2022, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (4): 120-127.doi: 10.12152/j.issn.1672-2868.2022.04.015

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An OED- and COCA-assisted Analysis on Semantic Change and Discrimination of Synonyms: By the Case of English Synonymous Verbs Deceive and Cheat

JIANG Meng:School of Foreign Studies, Anhui University   

  1. School of Foreign Studies, Anhui University, Hefei Anhui 230601
  • Received:2021-12-04 Online:2022-07-25 Published:2022-11-01

Abstract: Based on The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), this paper conducts a comparative study of English synonymous verbs deceive and cheat from five aspects: sense evolution, genre distribution, word frequency, collocation, and topics. The results reveal that deceive has more senses that became obsolete than cheat in the process of semantic shifts, so the word cheat has a wider semantic scope in modern English, but both verbs retain the meaning of "To cause to believe what is false" as the chief word sense; different from cheat which is frequently used in oral and informal genres, deceive always appears in formal contexts; the word frequency of cheat is much higher than that of deceive and their inflectional change tendencies are different; deceive often co-occur with topic words related to religion, while cheat is regularly involved in topics like honesty and morality, marriage and ethics. The study aims to clarify the similarities and differences between synonyms deceive and cheat, hoping to provide inspiration for English synonyms teaching and acquisition.

Key words: synonyms, semantic shift, discrimination, corpus, dictionary

CLC Number: 

  • H032