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Antonyms: Opposites

Antonyms are word pairs that are opposite in meaning, such as hot and cold, black and white, and in and out. Words may have different antonyms, depending on their meaning for example, both long and tall are antonyms of short.

Antonyms are broadly divided into two categories:

Below is a selection of 32 example pairs of each of these two types of antonym.

Graded Antonyms

Pairs of graded antonyms belong on a scale. For example, good and bad are antonyms. However, if an essay, say, is not good, that does not mean it is bad. There is a whole scale including appalling, terrible, bad, poor, satisfactory, fair, good, excellent, incredible, etc.

 1.darklight
 2.intelligentstupid
 3.dangeroussafe
 4.evilgood
 5.beautifulugly
 6.bestworst
 7.cleverfoolish
 8.earlylate
 9.easydifficult
 10.emptyfull
 11.fatskinny
 12.youngold
 13.happysad
 14.hardsoft
 15.lastfirst
 16.foolishwise
 17.quickslow
 18.warmcool
 19.widenarrow
 20.abundantscarce
 21.joygrief
 22.knowledgeignorance
 23.lazyindustrious
 24.stifflimp
 25.miserablehappy
 26.violentgentle
 27.chaosorder
 28.softenharden
 29.nervouscalm
 30.recklesscautious
 31.luxurysqualor
 32.sweetbitter

Complementary Antonyms

Pairs of complementary antonyms represent the two opposite possibilities. (There is no continuum, or middle-ground, as in the examples above.) For example, one is either married, or single.

 1.manwoman
 2.pushpull
 3.deadalive
 4.offon
 5.raiselower
 6.forgetremember
 7.daynight
 8.sadismmasochism
 9.rightwrong
 10.absentpresent
 11.againstfor
 12.exitentrance
 13.sinkfloat
 14.employdismiss
 15.marriedsingle
 16.questionanswer
 17.truefalse
 18.sendreceive
 19.attackdefend
 20.accidentalintentional
 21.formerlatter
 22.departarrive
 23.exteriorinterior
 24.extinguishignite
 25.solidfluid
 26.thawfreeze
 27.vacantoccupied
 28.inwardoutward
 29.inputoutput
 30.exhaleinhale
 31.passfail
 32.readwrite

Relational Antonyms

Pairs of relational antonyms are often considered as a third type. However, they are really a subcategory of complementary antonyms.

In this type of antonymy, there is a relationship in which the two opposites must both exist. For example, if someone is selling, there must be someone buying.

Relational antonyms describe the same situation from opposite sides. Here are 16 examples:

 1.servantmaster
 2.husbandwife
 3.doctorpatient
 4.buysell
 5.parentchild
 6.borrowlend
 7.predatorprey
 8.instructorpupil
 9.abovebelow
 10.givereceive
 11.teachlearn
 12.comego
 13.towardaway
 14.employeremployee
 15.customersupplier
 16.divisordividend

Related Pages

Closely related to antonyms are autoantonyms, an intriguing class of words that are the opposite of themselves! See also:

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