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Antonyms are two or more words that have opposing meanings. We will look at the different types of antonyms, where the word antonym came from, a few examples of antonyms and some examples of the word antonym used in sentences.

There are three types of antonyms. Graded antonyms are pairs of words with opposite meanings which are on a continuous spectrum. Some examples of graded antonyms are hard and soft, best and worst, wet and dry. Complementary antonyms are contradictory, something is either one or the other without any degree of differentness. Some examples of complementary antonyms are push and pull, on and off, in and out. The third category of antonyms is relational antonyms, which are word pairs in which there is context between the two words. Both of these words must exist in order for them to be considered the opposite of something. Some examples of relational antonyms are husband and wife, teacher and student, predator and prey.

A word may have more than one antonym, just as a word may have more than one synonym. Synonyms are two or more words with the same or nearly the same meaning. There are many more synonyms than antonyms in the English language, as not all words have an opposite. The word antonym was not added to the language until the 1860s, derived from the Greek prefix anti– meaning opposite or against, and the Greek work onym which means name.


And yet if there is a true archetype for a rock band frontman Petty would be its antonym. (The Toledo Blade)

If there were an antonym for “unerring” – something that captured the way that over more than 400 pages he avoids producing a good sentence even by accident – it would be the one for Brown. (The Guardian)