Create synonyms using a Thesaurus file in SharePoint Server

This is no secret that Search is very important in SharePoint.
Creating a thesaurus file, and uploading it to SharePoint Server, will provide synonyms results to users when they perform a search.

This is not applicable to SharePoint Online (at the time of writing: Dec. 2017).

Let’s get started!


Minimum requirements:

  • Search Service Application created
  • Search Service Application Admin permissions


Creating the Thesaurus file

A thesaurus file has a very specific format. It contains (in that order) a key, a synonym, and a language.

  • Log into your SharePoint Server
  • Open Notepad
  • Insert the synonyms

Thesaurus example

Save the thesaurus in your file share as a .csv file and encoding UTF-8 (saved mine on my server called “DCSQL1”)


Save thesaurus file as .csv

Save a copy of the thesaurus file also to another location, as there’s no way to export or even retrieve it if it’s lost.


Import the Thesaurus file with PowerShell

  • Open SharePoint Management Shell (or PowerShell ISE + add the snappin)
$searchSA = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication
Import-SPEnterpriseSearchThesaurus -SearchApplication $searchSA -FileName <UNC path>

Thesaurus imported successfully

Each time a Thesaurus is uploaded, it will overwrite the current one.


Test the synonyms

Now that everything went well, let’s give it a try.

  • Logging into a client machine
  • Searching “cbr” should return a document called “Client Budget Report

Client Budget Report returned with “cbr”


  • Searching “cso” should return a document called “Client Solution Overview

Client Solution Overview returned with “cso”


If you need more information, please refer to the official documentation.



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