an·​to·​nym | \ ˈan-tə-ˌnim How to pronounce antonym (audio) \

Definition of antonym

: a word of opposite meaning The usual antonym of good is bad.

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Other Words from antonym

antonymic \ ˌan-​tə-​ˈni-​mik How to pronounce antonymic (audio) \ adjective
antonymous \ an-​ˈtä-​nə-​məs How to pronounce antonymous (audio) \ adjective
antonymy \ an-​ˈtä-​nə-​mē How to pronounce antonymy (audio) \ noun

Some Differences Between Synonyms and Antonyms

The English language (and, we may presume, many other languages) has both antonyms and synonyms. There are many more words with synonyms than there are words with antonyms, since many things exist which do not have an opposite (the word sandwich, for instance, may be said to have synonyms in the words hoagie, grinder, submarine, and many other words, but there is no opposite of sandwich). Antonym is also a much more recent addition to English than synonym is; it first appeared in the 1860s, whereas synonym has been used for more than 500 years. Additionally, both nouns have adjectival forms: synonymous and antonymous. Synonymous, which is often used loosely ("She has become synonymous with good taste"), is the more common of the two.

Examples of antonym in a Sentence

“Hot” and “cold” are antonyms.
Recent Examples on the Web And still the signs fluttered and scattered, the book of antonyms ripped up by Sanders delegates, who tore at its pages and yanked at its binding, its brittle glue. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "A Tale of Two Conventions," 29 July 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antonym.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of antonym

1857, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for antonym

borrowed from French antonyme, probably back-formation (after synonyme synonym) from antonymie "opposition of words with contrary senses," borrowed from Greek antōnymía "pronoun (i.e., a word substituting for another), interchange of names," from ant-, anti- "in opposition to, in place of" + -ōnymos "having a name (of the kind specified)" + -ia -ia entry 1 — more at anti-, homonymous

Note: French antonyme appears in the title and text of Dictionnaire des antonymes ou contremots (Paris & Berlin, 1842), an early dictionary of antonyms compiled from 17th-18th-century authors by the Alsatian philologist Paul Ackermann (1812-46), who may have coined the word. In English antonym was promulgated, if not first used, by the British clergyman Charles John Smith (1819-72) in Synonyms and Antonyms, Collected and Contrasted (London: Bell & Daldy, 1867), which went through several subsequent editions and reprints.

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Time Traveler for antonym

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The first known use of antonym was in 1857

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Cite this Entry

“Antonym.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for antonym


How to pronounce antonym (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of antonym

: a word with a meaning that is opposite to the meaning of another word


an·​to·​nym | \ ˈan-tə-ˌnim How to pronounce antonym (audio) \

Kids Definition of antonym

: a word of opposite meaning “Hot” and “cold” are antonyms.

More from Merriam-Webster on antonym

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for antonym

Nglish: Translation of antonym for Spanish Speakers

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