When we search for something using a search engine we normally don’t enter the exact keywords that would be present in a website or a document. What we actually enter is something that tends to have the same meaning as those keywords or a phrase that would relate in that way.
Search without synonyms would definitely be something that someone does not want to live with! Without synonyms configured, if you don’t happen to enter the keywords that are present in a document or a website you would get 0 results. This obviously would be really frustrating and you might end up pulling all your hair out off your head :D!
Fortunately SharePoint Search recognizes synonyms and it can be configured. In order to configure it, one would need to Import a Thesaurus file to SharePoint using Power Shell. The Thesaurus file basically contains the key with the corresponding synonym, something like this
key, synonym, language
For Example in a thesaurus file an entry would be-
emerges, rises, en
where en stands for English
So suppose a document had a word called as “emerges” and you search for “rises”, you would still be able to retrieve the document from the search results.
Each line is a new entry in the file. And once you are done adding the entries, the file can be uploaded to SharePoint. One must note that if you re-upload the Thesaurus file with new keywords, it would not automatically add those keywords to the existing thesaurus file. It is basically going to create a new file with the keywords that you had planned to add. So, it is always wise to keep a backup of your Thesaurus file in your local hard drive so that you don’t loose your data if you accidentally happen to upload a file with just the new words.