Recent advances in deep learning have brought significant progress in visual grounding tasks such as language-guided video object segmentation. However, collecting large datasets for these tasks is expensive in terms of annotation time, which represents a bottleneck. To this end, we propose a novel method, namely SynthRef, for generating synthetic referring expressions for target objects in an image (or video frame), and we also present and disseminate the first large-scale dataset with synthetic referring expressions for video object segmentation. Our experiments demonstrate that by training with our synthetic referring expressions one can improve the ability of a model to generalize across different datasets, without any additional annotation cost. Moreover, our formulation allows its application to any object detection or segmentation dataset.