Meaning of Antonym

A term is antonym to another when it states a concept that is contrary to or opposed to it. It is an idea that is used in the field of linguistics when classifying words.

An antonym always acquires this classification by establishing a link with its opposite. That is to say: no term is antonym by itself. The same is true of synonyms, which are terms that express a meaning similar to or equal to that of others.

For example: “young” and “old” are antonyms. The first concept refers to something or someone of little age or seniority, while the second notion refers to the opposite: to something or someone of many years of life or existence. In this way, it can be said that a man cannot be “young” and “old” simultaneously. If it is “young”, it is not “old” and vice versa, since the antonyms express the opposite.

This concept is situated in the field of linguistics, where antonymy is also spoken of to define the condition of antonym, that is, the relationship that occurs between two words that have opposite meanings. There are different types of antonyms; Although they all serve to compare or contrast two meanings, the nuances provided by each of them are different, as well as the cases in which they are used.

First, we will talk about reciprocal antonyms, that is, those that necessarily require the existence of the other. In this context, we can mention the actions of “pay” and “collect”. For one person to “pay” for something, another has to “collect” it. You cannot “pay” a thing if nobody “charges” it.

The strength that we can see in the link between two reciprocal antonyms is very particular and interesting from a linguistic point of view and, more precisely, from the perspective of semantics. Once we understand that each component of this series of pairs always has its complement, we can take advantage of this dependency to make a richer and more subtle use of the language.

The complementary antonyms, meanwhile, eliminate their meanings from each other. If a person is “married”, they cannot be “single”. It is impossible to be “married” and, simultaneously, to be “single”.

In this case there is a phenomenon similar to that of reciprocal antonyms, in that the force that exists in their relationship is impossible to ignore: one nullifies the other, and this can also serve to optimize the use of language, since allows us to say more with less.

Thanks to the action that a term produces on its complementary antonym, not only can we avoid using both in the same sentence, but we can also insinuate the meaning of one of them simply with the other. For example, if we take into account the relationship between the words clean and dirty, someone could say with a certain contempt that ” his study was not exactly clean “, to avoid the use of dirty, the meaning of which is actually appreciated in your opinion.

The gradual antonyms, finally, exert an opposition that is gradual, since between the two there are other terms with a different degree. “Hot” and “cold” are gradual antonyms: among them there are adjectives like “lukewarm” or “temperate”.

Here especially the idioms and regionalisms come into play, as well as the different jargons, since each group of people expresses with different terms and degrees of precision the concepts related to temperature, color and intensity of sound, for example. Continuing with the terms cold and hot, we can say that among them there are many possibilities outside the academic field of the language, such as being quite hot or chilly.


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