An antonym is a word that is the opposite meaning of another. It comes
from the Greek words “anti” for opposite and “onym” for name. Since
language is complex, people may at times, disagree on what words are
truly opposite in meaning to other words.
Categories of antonyms
There are three categories of
Graded antonyms deal with levels of the meaning of the words, like
if something is not “good”, is may still not be “bad.” There is a scale
involved with some words, and besides good and bad there can be
average, fair, excellent, terrible, poor, or satisfactory.
• Complementary antonyms have a relationship where
there is no middle ground. There are only two
possibilities, either one or the other.
Relational antonyms are sometimes considered a subcategory of
complementary antonyms. With these pairs, for there to be a
relationship, both must exist.
Adding a prefix
Sometimes, an antonym can be easily made by adding a prefix.
Examples of antonyms that were made by adding the prefix “un”
Likely and unlikely
Lastly, adding the prefix “in” can make the following
Tolerant and intolerant
• If you want to find the perfect antonym, a thesaurus or
antonym dictionary can be very helpful. These reference
sources will give definitions and parts of speech, has lists
of anonyms, synonyms, and sometimes will even show
similar sounding words, homophones, rhymes, and will
show examples from literature.