Today’s Question: How are keyword synonyms used? What are uses?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Keyword synonyms in software such as Lightroom Classic provide a way to search for images based on those synonyms, and also optionally have synonyms included along with the “real” keywords when exporting photos.
More Detail: Adding keywords to a photo is rather straightforward, in terms of enabling you to locate photos based on the subject matter represented by the keywords, as well as to remind yourself of the content of an image by reviewing the keywords when you locate a photo.
In addition, with software such as Lightroom Classic, you can define synonyms for a keyword when you create or edit the keyword. In Lightroom Classic if you use the plus button to the Keyword List heading on the right panel in the Library module. You can enter the actual keyword in the Keyword Name field, and then add one or more synonyms (separated by commas) in the Synonyms field. You can also edit a keyword to add synonyms by right-clicking on the keyword in the Keyword List and choosing “Edit Keyword Tag” from the popup menu.
For example, if you had a photo of an orca (the species of whale) you might naturally add “orca” as a keyword to the image. But when you’re looking for an image featuring an orca, you might reasonably search for “killer whale”, which is a name commonly used for this species. You might also search for “Orcinus orca”, the binomial nomenclature representing the genus and species of the orca.
In this case, rather than adding “orca”, “killer whale”, and “Orcinus orca” as individual keywords, you could simply create (or edit) a keyword for “orca” and add “killer whale” and “Orcinus orca” as synonyms for the keyword.
In Lightroom Classic when you search based on keywords, synonyms of those keywords are included in the search. In the above example, if you entered “killer whale” as the search term on the Library Filter bar, images that include “orca” but not “killer whale” as a keyword would still appear in the search result, because “killer whale” is a synonym for the “orca” keyword.
In addition, you have the option to include synonyms in the Keywords field in metadata when you export a photo from Lightroom Classic. When creating or editing a keyword, just be sure that the “Export Synonyms” checkbox is turned on. Also be sure that keywords are included in the option you select for metadata to be included within the Export dialog upon export.