When can we say that two or more things are similar? There similarity depends on several factors such as qualities, appearance, nature, meanings, characteristics, functions, quantities and a lot more. For instance, two cats are of equal size. It means to say that they are similar in appearance. The term comes from the Greek word “similaire” and from the Latin word “similis” which means like. It is first known in the year 1611. It has several synonyms such as comparable, equal or equivalent, alike, identical, same, synonymous, uniform, resembling, congruous, indistinguishable, homogeneous and others. Although all of these terms are synonymous to each other, you still need to select the most appropriate term to use for a particular situation.
On the other hand, this term also has several antonyms such as different, unlike, dissimilar, opposite, varying, various, contrary, diverse, clashing, heterogeneous, unalike, contrary, etc. Therefore, we cannot say that two things are similar in appearance if they are different in size, for instance. Another example goes, in Geometry, a similar triangle is called such because its 3 sides are all equal in length.
The term can also be used to mean capable of replacing or taking places of other things. It means to say that there is a mutual substitution without necessarily losing the function, meaning or suitability. Moreover, the synonymous word for “similar” in this regard is “interchangeable”. For example, two electric outlets are interchangeable. Meaning to say, one can take the place of the other while retaining the function. The right preposition combination to be used for the term is “to” and this is how it should be used: “What happened to me this morning was similar to what happened to my friend the other day”. In addition, this term’s noun is similarity and adverb is similarly.