What Are Antonyms? (with Examples)

Our most common search themes:
apostrophe
semicolon
adjective
verb


What Are Antonyms? (with Examples)

An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of another. For example:
  • Bad is an antonym of good.
  • Coward is an antonym of hero.
However, it's not always the case that one word has just one antonym.

Examples of Antonyms

The following are all antonyms of good:
  • bad
  • badness
  • corrupt
  • evil
  • evilness
  • malicious
  • sour
  • wicked
The first point is that good, like many words, can be a noun or an adjective, so its antonyms will be a mix of nouns and adjectives too. The second point is that antonyms do not have to be exact opposites. There are two main types of antonyms: graded antonyms and complementary antonyms.

Graded Antonyms

Graded antonyms do not have to be opposites of equal weighting. They allow for shades of oppositeness. For example, the following are all antonyms for good:
  • unsatisfactory
  • poor
  • bad
  • terrible

Complementary Antonyms

Complementary antonyms offer no middle ground. With complementary antonyms, each word only has one antonym. (The reason for that is often a relationship between the two words.) For example:
  • 1 / 0
  • before / after
  • buy / sell
  • dead / alive
  • doctor / patient
  • husband / wife
  • man / woman
  • off / on
  • predator / prey
  • yes / no

Adding a Prefix to Form an Antonym

Quite often, an antonym can be made by adding a prefix. For example:
  • likely / unlikely
  • able / unable
  • entity / nonentity
  • combatant / noncombatant
  • typical / atypical
  • symmetrical / asymmetrical
  • decent / indecent
  • discreet / indiscreet
Your score:

Click on the



More Free Help...

All the lessons and tests on Grammar Monster are free. Here's some more free help:

Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Facebook
by Craig Shrives Follow us on Google+
mail tip Sign up for our daily tip emails
Chat about grammar Ask a grammar question
Search Search this site

Buy Some Help...

Too busy to read everything on Grammar Monster? Here are the paid services we recommend to learn grammar and to keep your writing error free:

Paste your text into Grammarly's online interface for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Press F2 while using Word, PowerPoint, etc., for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Send your text to a trained editor and grammar geek for checking. (Free trial available)

Learn English (or another language) with a state-of-the-art program. (Free trial available)

Buy Our Book...

Buy "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision" by Craig Shrives (founder of Grammar Monster).


More info...