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An antonym is a word that is  opposite in context of another word although similar in other respects. Antonyms are most likely verbs,  adjectives and adverbs, with few nouns suitable as true antonyms. Most words can have more than one antonym. Antonym is the relation that exists between words which are opposite. Our day to day life is full of antonyms; from the ‘stop’ and ‘go’ of a road traffic signal to side-by-side restroom doors labeled ‘him’ and ‘her.’ 

Antonyms Examples :
Afraid – Confident
Arrogant – Humble
Brave – Cowardly
Destroy – Create
East – West
Black – White
Freeze - Boil
Innocent – Guilty
Compliment – Insult
Praise – Criticism
Random – Specific
Sturdy – Weak
Sunny – Cloudy
Timid – Bold
Vague – Definite
Villain – Hero

Antonym are pairs of words with almost opposite meanings. Considering short and tall which are opposite in connotation however both fall under the invariable parts of speech like adjectives and would take the same place in a sentence. Some words can be changed into antonyms merely by adding the prefixes ‘in,’ ‘dis,’ ‘non,’ ‘ir,’ ‘un,’ etc.
Consider the below sentences:
  • It was a cold day.
  • It was a hot day.
Hot is the antonym of cold because they have opposite meanings.

Likable – Unlikable
Important – Unimportant 
Forgivable – Unforgivable
Advantage – Disadvantage
Satisfied – Dissatisfied
Patient – Impatient
Legal – Illegal
Effective –   Ineffective
Complete – Incomplete
Relevant –   Irrelevant


Categories of Antonyms

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A word may at times have more than one or more antonym where each word is the opposite of the other word. There are three classifications of antonyms identified by the relationship between the inimical meanings such as:
Graded antonyms – Where two words have descriptions that fall on a constant spectrum of the meaning. In short it deals with levels of the meaning of the words, like if something is not “good”, it may still not be “bad.” There is a measure involved with some words, and in addition to good and bad there can be average, excellent, fair, poor, satisfactory or terrible. Examples: Happy - sad; fast - slow; dark - light; wide - narrow etc.

Complementary antonymsWhere the meanings limit to lie on a continuous range besides the words have no other verbal relationship, and no middle ground. There are only two possibilities, either one or the other. Example: dead - alive; day - night; man - woman; single - married; true - false; question - answer etc.

Relational antonymsare considered as subcategory of complementary antonyms. With relational antonyms there has to be a relationship, where the two meanings are opposite only within the context of their relationship, where both must exist. There is no verbal opposite of master, but master and servant are opposite within the context of their relationship. Example: Doctor – patient; Seller – Buyer; Mother – Daughter; Lost – found; Give - get; Above – below etc.

Adding a Prefix to Antonyms  

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By adding the prefix “non”:
  • Conformist and nonconformist
  • Combatant and noncombatant
  • Entity and nonentity
  • Payment and nonpayment
By adding the prefix “un”:
  • Able and unable
  • Likely and unlikely
  • Fortunate and unfortunate
  • Forgiving and unforgiving
By adding the prefix “in”:
  • Decent and indecent
  • Tolerant and intolerant
  • Discreet and indiscreet
  • Excusable and inexcusable


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Circle the antonym for each underlined word:
  1. Dark - dim, light, black, cloudy
  2. Strong - powerful, able, heavy, weak
  3. Poor - rich, destitute, needy, penniless
  4. Scared -afraid, bold, panicky, anxious
  5. Ugly -awful, horrid, beautiful, gross

Write the antonym and synonym for each word in the appropriate column:

  1. Valuable
  2. Polite
  3. Gentle
  4. Forceful
  5. Happy
  6. Grateful
  7. Pleasant
  8. Pretty
  9. Love
  10. Appreciate
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