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Opposite Words (Antonyms)


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Opposite Words (Antonyms)

Basics on the topic Opposite Words (Antonyms)

Antonyms – Opposite Words

When we talk and write, it’s very helpful to use the right words to say exactly what we mean. Antonyms – or opposite words – are important parts of your word toolkit! You may have already come across the term antonym, but what does it mean? In this text, we will explain the meaning and show you some examples of antonyms.

Antonyms – Definition

Let’s look at the concept of antonyms in more detail:

According to the definition, antonyms are, words with opposite meanings. The word comes from the Greek words anti (meaning "against") and ónoma (meaning "name" or "word"). However, not every word has an antonym. For example, there are no antonyms for numeral words like ‘one’ or ‘two’.


In this text, you will find some examples of antonyms.

What are antonyms?

Antonyms – Examples

Some words just have one antonym, while other words have several antonyms. Antonyms of sad, for example, are happy, glad, joyful, and cheerful. Many adjectives, verbs, prepositions, and adverbs have antonyms. Most nouns don’t have real antonyms.



Below you can find a list with some examples for common antonyms pairs.

Word Antonym
bright dark
thick thin
hot cold
high low
mountain valley
open close
love hate
solid liquid
big small
day night
young old
easy hard
pretty ugly
friendly unfriendly
dark/heavy light
up down
right left/wrong
inside outside
long/tall short
night day
on off
hot cold
loud quiet
floor ceiling
rich poor

Further Information on Antonyms

Identifying Antonyms

While some words have familiar antonyms, it’s harder to find antonyms for other words, For example, antonyms of reluctant, antonyms of accepted and antonyms of stress can be challenging. Here are some possibilities:

Word Antonym
reluctant willing/confident/ready/bold
accepted rejected/different/uncommon/unpopular/unusual
stress calm/peace/help

Identifying antonyms can be tricky sometimes. Remember as a general rule of thumb:

Antonyms are based on the meaning of a word. A good strategy for identifying antonyms is to look for opposite meanings. If a word has the opposite meaning of another word, it is an antonym.

Antonyms in Language and Communication

Good communication is always dependent on how people receive and interpret what was said. Sometimes it is advisable to pick a certain antonym over another. We sometimes use antonyms to express a thought indirectly. For example, it might sound more polite to say “He wasn’t rich” than “He was poor.” In such cases, using a negative word like wasn’t can be helpful.

Creating Antonyms with Prefixes and Suffixes

We can create some antonyms by using prefixes like un- and suffixes like -less. Here are some examples of antonyms that use prefixes and suffixes. Sometimes the prefix or suffix gets attached to the word and sometimes it replaces part of the word.

Affix Word Antonym
Prefix un- done undone
Prefix dis- like dislike
Suffix -less careful careless

If you would like to learn more about how to create antonyms using affixes, feel free to watch a video and read a text about Decoding Using Affixes: dis-, un-, pre- & -less .

Antonyms and Synonyms

As you can see in the first table, the opposite of an antonym is a synonym.

A synonym is a word that has the same meaning as another word.

Remember the antonyms of sad? They were happy, glad, joyful and cheerful. All these words share a similar meaning: They are synonyms of each other. We can also call them graded antonyms: They express different degrees of the opposite of sad.

Remember: Antonyms are different words with opposite meanings, and synonyms are different words with the same meaning.

Antonyms – Summary

Remember: Antonyms are opposite words like good / bad, high / low and hot / cold. We use them to express ourselves more precisely in speech and writing. Some words have one antonym, while others have many … and some don’t have any at all. We can also use antonyms made with prefixes like -un and suffixes like -less. This is especially helpful for words that don’t have good antonyms or to use a wide variety of words in a text. Using antonyms makes you a better and more efficient communicator!

Frequently Asked Questions about Antonyms

What are the different types of antonyms?
How can I identify antonyms in a sentence?
What is the role of antonyms in effective communication?
How can I teach antonyms to students effectively?
Are there any challenges in understanding antonyms?
How are antonyms used in literature and media?
What are some common antonym pairs in English?
What are antonym clusters and word families?
Can antonyms vary in different languages and cultures?
How can antonyms be applied in everyday life?

Transcript Opposite Words (Antonyms)

"It's not opposite day today, Koko! Go to sleep!" "What are you talking about, Pip? I don't understand." "I can show you how it's undone." Huh? It seems there is some confusion in the treehouse. Let's help clear things up by teaching our friends about "Opposite Words, Antonyms"! Sometimes we come across words that mean the opposite of one another, like to catch and to throw. Catch means to grab something moving through the air and hold it. While throw means to send something through the air with your hand and arm. We call words like these antonyms. You can think of it as two words that are the reverse of each other, like being clean or dirty! But, simply put, antonyms are two words that means the opposite of one another. Knowing the antonym for a word is important because it can help us show how much we understand the meaning of a word. Many describing words, or adjectives, have antonyms like: happy and sad; big and small; or early and late. Many action words, or verbs, have antonyms too, like: to smile and to frown; to open and to close; or to stop and to go. Now that we know more about antonyms, or opposite words, let's try matching some. Which word is the antonym, or opposite, of early? Late, or happy? The answer is lat because it describes the opposite of early. Which word is the antonym, or opposite, of smile? Frown, or open? The answer is frown because it is the opposite action of smile. Let's try a challenge! Which word is the antonym, or opposite, of old? Fast, or young? The answer is young because it is the opposite age of old. While we see how Opposite Day ended up for Koko and Pip, let's remember! Today we learned about opposite words, or antonyms. They are two words that are opposite in meaning or the reverse of the other. Knowing the antonym for a word is important because it can help us understand its meaning. Describing words, or adjectives, and action words, or verbs, both have many examples of antonyms. "Today was a great day, Pip. We should definitely do this again sometime."


Opposite Words (Antonyms) exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Opposite Words (Antonyms).
  • Can you finish the sentence?


    When two words are opposite it means they are the reverse of each other. For example, in and out are opposites.

    What word is the opposite or reverse of stop?

    Stop means an action has come to an end.

    The opposite would be a word that means to start an action.

    Which word means to start?


    Stop is the opposite of go.

    These words are antonyms and mean the reverse of each other.

  • Can you match the antonyms?


    Antonyms can be both adjectives and verbs.

    The antonym of an adjective must be another adjective.

    The antonym of a verb must be another verb.

    Look at the words above. Which words are adjectives and which are verbs?

    Here are the words sorted by verbs and adjectives.

    What are the two antonyms pairs that are verbs?

    What are the two antonyms pairs that are adjectives?


    Open and close are both verbs. Open means to spread something apart. Close means to bring something together. Open is the opposite of close.

    Catch and throw are both verbs. Catch means to grab something that is moving through the air. Throw means to launch something through the air. Catch is the opposite of throw.

    Old and young are both adjectives. Old means someone who has lived for many years. Young means someone who had lived for just a few years. Old is the opposite of young.

    Early and late are both adjectives. Early means happening before the usual time. Late means happening after the usual time. Early is the opposite of late.

  • Can you find the two words that are antonyms?


    Look at each word and ask yourself, what is the antonym?

    Do you see the antonym in the choices?

    These antonyms are all adjectives. They describe something.

    For example, short and tall are antonyms that describe height.

    Can you find two words that describe the same thing in opposite ways?


    Cold and hot are antonyms.

    They are opposite temperatures.

  • Which pair of words are not antonyms?


    Choose the pair of words that are not opposites.

    Look at each word pair.

    Are these two words opposites?

    If the answer is yes, they are antonyms.

    Find the pair that are not antonyms.


    Hand and mouth are not antonyms.

    These words are not opposites.

    They are both body parts.

  • What is the antonym of sad?


    Antonyms are two words that mean the opposite of one another.

    For example, right and wrong are opposites.

    What word is the opposite of sad?

    Sad can mean you have been hurt or something bad happened. Some people think it's a bad feeling.

    Which of the feelings above is a good feeling? This is a clue that it is the opposite of sad.


    Sad can mean you have been hurt or something bad happened.

    Happy means you are joyful. People feel happy when something good happens.

    Sad and happy are antonyms.

    They have opposite meanings.

  • Can you find the opposite pair?


    Look at each word and ask yourself, what is the antonym?

    Do you see the antonym somewhere in the picture?

    The antonyms in this picture are adjectives. They describe something.

    Full and empty are antonyms that describe how much of something there is in a container or cup.

    Can you find two words that describe the same thing in opposite ways?


    Fast and slow are antonyms.

    They are opposite speeds.