Antonyms (opposite words) are an important word type to use in almost any form of writing. Many people though, don’t actually understand what an antonym is. Most people would be surprised to hear that they probably use antonyms all of the time without realizing it though. This guide will take you through what an antonym is, how it is used in writing, and give you some of the reasons why learning antonyms is important in any type of writing.
What Is An Antonym?
Antonyms are basically just words with opposite meanings to one another. Conversely, synonyms are words with meanings that are the same as one another. Most people don’t know that there are, in fact, different types of antonyms though. Below we’ll take a look at these different types of antonyms, explain what they are, and provide some examples to make it clearer.
Antonyms (opposites) examples:
- Night – Day
- Arrive – Leave
- Junior – Senior
- Better – Worse
- Right – Left
- Rich – Poor
- Smart – Stupid
- Small – Big
Examples of Antonyms (Opposites)
Types of Antonyms/Opposites
Complementary and Binary pairs
Don’t let the slightly complicated names for these different types of antonyms concern you, complementary and binary pairs are the easiest antonyms to understand because there is absolutely no gray area between them. That is to say, all of these types of antonyms are the absolute opposite of the other words, and there is no room for confusion. Let’s take a look at these more concrete examples of antonyms:
- Dead or alive – you cannot be anything other than these two, and dead is the absolute concrete opposite of alive. This makes them complementary and binary pair antonyms because they are very clear in their opposite meanings. In short, if dead is applicable as a descriptive word for somebody, then alive cannot be, and vice versa.
- Pass or fail – you cannot both pass and fail, so this is another clear-cut example of a complementary and binary pair antonym.
- True or false – again, something can’t be both true and false.
Hopefully, the above examples have made the meaning of complementary and binary pair antonyms much clearer. To remember which antonyms are complementary and binary pairs, ask yourself if both can be true – if they can’t, then they are complete opposites and are complementary and binary pairs.
For these types of antonyms, they are generally at opposite ends of a scale. That is to say, that words exist between the two of them that can describe the gray area in the middle of those scales. In order to be antonyms at all, they do still need to be opposites of one another, so they will be at the opposite ends of the scales. Let’s take a look at some examples to make that clearer:
- Ugly and beautiful – there is some subjectivity here, and there are words in existence that can go some way to describing the gray area between the two. Words such as “plain” or “average” might be used to describe somebody who is neither ugly nor beautiful. At the opposite ends of this scale of ‘attractiveness’ sit ugly and beautiful though, so they are gradable antonyms.
- Good and bad – as we know, morality exists on a sliding scale that different people fall along at different points, and even within ourselves we can sometimes do things that are good, and sometimes do things that are bad. But, because good and bad are opposites at the end of the scale, they are gradable antonyms.
- Hot and cold – again, you might be warm or cool too, but hot and cold are the extreme opposites on the scale.
Reverse or relational antonyms
These antonyms are defined by their reverse relationship. The two words are opposites but in terms of their relationship to one another. The two things or people are related, but they do have opposite meanings. So, let’s take a look at some of these reverse or relational antonyms:
- Parent and offspring – the two people obviously have a relationship to one another and the antonyms here are the opposite of one another. A parent is related to their offspring, and offspring related to their parent, so this highlights the opposite relationship that they have.
- Buy and sell – this is another example of two things or actions in a relationship with one another, but again they are opposite. If somebody is buying something from someone else, then that someone else must be selling that something to the buyer. So, they have a very close opposite relationship and therefore fall into the reverse or relational antonyms.
- Push and pull – again, they are related, but opposites.
Add a Prefix to Create an Antonym
Sometimes, antonyms can be as simple as adding a prefix such as ‘dis’ or ‘un’ to a word to create an antonym to a word. Let’s take a look at some of these examples:
If you wanted to create an antonym to the word similar – meaning something has characteristics that match something else – then you can do so by adding a prefix. In this case, ‘dis‘ would work, to create the words dissimilar – meaning something doesn’t have characteristics that match something else – so you have created an antonym by simply adding a prefix. There are, of course, other examples:
- Familiar can be turned to unfamiliar by adding the prefix ‘un‘.
- Important can be turned to unimportant by adding the same prefix.
- Respect can be turned to disrespect by adding the prefix ‘dis‘.
And there are many more besides these few.
Why Learn Antonyms and Synonyms
The importance of antonyms and synonyms in writing can not be overstated. When writing creatively or in non-fiction, you will almost certainly have to use antonyms to show an opposite relationship. Knowing them, or learning how to correctly create them, is important because it allows you to use different terms to describe something effectively. Most things we write about will have some opposition at some point, in order to show a change or difference, so it’s important to get to grips with antonyms and synonyms early to be able to show these differences.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a detailed understanding of antonyms and the different types for you to use in your own writing moving forward!
Here you will find an extensive list of opposite words (opposites) from A-Z with example sentences.
Here’s a list of opposites that start with A.
Below is a list of opposite words that start with B.
Let’s take a look at some opposite words that start with C with examples.
Calm – Chaotic
Our day might start calm, but unexpected events can turn it chaotic.
Capture – Release
In games, we might capture a piece, but in nature reserves, we might witness the release of wildlife back into their habitat.
Certain – Doubtful
We feel certain when we have all the facts, yet doubtful when information is missing.
Cheap – Expensive
Shopping deals can be cheap, whereas luxury items are typically expensive.
Clean – Dirty
After a wash, our clothes are clean, but they become dirty after a muddy hike.
Clever – Foolish
A clever solution can save the day, in contrast to a foolish mistake which may complicate matters.
Cold – Hot
Winters bring cold weather, while summers offer hot days.
Comedy – Tragedy
Films can be a comedy eliciting our laughter or a tragedy drawing our tears.
Complex – Simple
Some puzzles are complex and challenge us, whereas others are simple and quickly solved.
Compliment – Insult
We feel uplifted when we receive a compliment, but an insult can ruin our mood.
Antonyms (Opposites) List – Image 2
Here are some typical opposite words starting with D.
Dark and Light:
- Dark implies the absence of light, often associated with nighttime or poorly lit areas.
- Light, on the other hand, signifies brightness and visibility.
Deep and Shallow:
- A deep area, like a section of the ocean, extends far below the surface.
- Shallow waters are near the surface and often safe for wading.
Descent and Ascent:
- Descent refers to a movement downward, like hiking down a hill.
- Ascent involves moving upward, often against gravity.
Distant and Near:
- Distant suggests something is far away in space or time.
- Near indicates closeness or a short distance.
Below are some common opposite words that start with E with their examples.
Early – Late: We often talk about time using these antonyms. An early bird catches the worm, but it’s better late than never.
Empty – Full: When we look at containers, we describe them as either empty or full, depending on their contents.
End – Begin: Activities and events have a starting point and an endpoint. We begin a journey, and eventually, it ends.
Even – Odd: In mathematics, we categorize numbers as even or odd, defining their divisibility by two.
Exclude – Include: When we form groups or lists, we decide what to include and what to exclude, shaping the nature of our collection.
Expand – Contract: These terms are essential in describing movements. Materials expand with heat and contract with cold.
Here’s a table summarizing more antonyms beginning with “E”:
Here’s a list of opposite words that start with F.
Antonyms (Opposites) List – Image 3
Here’s a short list of opposite words that start with G with examples.
- A genuine interest in someone’s welfare is the complete opposite of showing a fake concern.
- We admire a generous donor, but often look down on someone who is stingy with their money.
- The hiker moved gracefully across the rocks, unlike their companion who stumbled along clumsily.
- After the gift was received, the child was grateful, in stark contrast to another who remained ungrateful.
Below are some opposite words that start with H with examples.
To better understand these pairs, let’s dive into a few examples:
- Happy/Unhappy: We all have moments when we feel joyous or satisfied; that’s when we’re happy. Conversely, when things don’t go our way, or we’re dissatisfied, we’re unhappy.
- Heavy/Light: Imagine holding a textbook; it’s quite heavy. Now picture a feather; it’s as light as, well, a feather.
- High/Low: The summit of a mountain is high, reaching towards the sky, while a valley sits low on the ground.
- Hard/Easy: Some puzzles can be hard, challenging our wits and patience. Others can be easy, offering a quick sense of accomplishment.
- Humid/Dry: In weather, a tropical rainforest has humid air that feels thick and wet, whereas a desert has a dry climate, often with very little moisture.
Many opposite words that start with I are listed below.
Here are some adjectives that start with J and their antonyms.
Now, let’s explore antonyms in the context of verbs beginning with “J”:
When we discuss opposites, we must also consider nouns. For instance:
Here’s a list of opposite words starting with L.
Here are some opposite words that start with M.
Now, let’s list some antonyms that relate to actions or states of being:
- Make and Destroy: To “make” is to create something, while to “destroy” is to thoroughly dismantle or ruin it.
- Moisten and Dry: “Moisten” means to make something slightly wet, and “dry” indicates the absence of moisture.
- Multiply and Divide: In mathematics, these terms represent fundamental operations with contradictory effects on numbers.
Lastly, we have words that deal with temporal and spatial relations:
- Morning and Evening: These words denote opposite times of the day.
- Modern and Ancient: “Modern” relates to the present or recent times, contrasted with “ancient,” which pertains to the very distant past.
A list of opposite words that start with N can be seen below.
Antonyms (Opposites) List – Image 4
Here’s a list of opposite words that start with O.
We have provided some opposite words starting with P below for you.
Check the list of opposite words that start with R below.
- Resident vs. Visitor
- Regular vs. Irregular
- Reckless vs. Cautious
- Real vs. Fake
- Receive vs. Send
Here are some useful opposites that start with S.
Simple and Complex
- Simple implies something that is not complicated, easy to understand or do.
- Complex, on the other hand, refers to something composed of many interconnected parts, thus difficult to analyze or solve.
Strong and Weak
- A strong entity has the power, vigor, or moral strength, whereas a
- Weak one lacks these qualities, often unable to withstand pressure.
Synonyms for “Strong”: forceful, potent, tough
Synonyms for “Weak”: frail, feeble, powerless
Success and Failure
- Success is the achievement of an aimed or desired outcome.
- Failure is the lack of success or the inability to meet an expectation.
Serene and Turbulent
- Serene describes a state of tranquility, without agitation or disturbance.
- Turbulent typically characterizes a state of confusion or disorder.
|Definition (Word 1)
|Definition (Word 2)
|To keep money for future use
|To pay out money in exchange for goods or services
|Higher in rank or longer in tenure
|Lower in rank or shorter in tenure
Here are some words that start with T and their antonyms.
- Torrid: Cold
- Tepid: Boiling
- Transient: Permanent
- Timely: Tardy
- Tactful: Tactless
- Temperate: Impulsive
- Truthful: Deceptive
- Transparent: Opaque
Here’s a short list of opposite words that start with U.
Here are some opposite words that start with V.
Below is a list of opposite words that start with W.
Antonyms | Pictures
List of Opposites (Antonyms List) in English | Image 1
Opposites (Antonyms List) in English | Image 2
Opposites (Antonyms List) in English | Image 3
List of Opposites (Antonyms List) in English | Image 4
Opposite Words Video
Learn 120+ common antonyms (opposites) in English from A-Z with an American pronunciation video lesson.
Learn 120+ common opposites (antonyms) with a pronunciation video lesson.
Last Updated on November 21, 2023