This has been one of the best threads I have read in a long time, excellent comments too and fro and no one has gotten heated about it. I have also been forced to do some heavy reading which I don't do enough of these days.
Synthesizer is something that can use wavetables or analog oscillators or additive synthesis etc. but a sampler would be something that can only use samples. Throughout the years I have been fascinated by the manner of how these machines worked and indeed their strange idiosyncracies, each instrument having its own unique sound.