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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.


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.


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:


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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