Rules for Solving Antonyms

Antonyms Rules

What is an Antonym?

The term antonym means a phrase or word which means just the opposite to the given the word or phrase in the same language. According to linguistic studies, most of the English words are derived from the Latin and the Greek language.

Each English word contains a root or a suffix or prefix, so all we have to do is to find that root, analyze whether it is of Greek or a Latin origin and then derive the meaning out of the word. And finally, find out the word which means exactly the opposite of that word

Rules for antonyms

Rules for Antonyms

Rule #1 – Answer Choices

Take note of positively and negatively charged answer choices. It is possible to associate a negative or positive charge with almost any given word. 

Try to discern whether each word in the following list has a –

  1. positive (+)
  2. negative (-), or 
  3. neutral (=) charge.

Choose the best synonym/antonym based on its charge.


Rule #2 – Types of Antonyms

Antonyms have been categorized into two parts, for a better understanding of the students.

Types of Antonyms:

  • Gradable Antonyms: they offer a middle ground to all the words and act on a graded spectrum i.e. within a range.
    • let’s take a word fat. Now it’s antonyms can be thin, skinny, slender, slight, slim, (Here you can see there’s a range of words from very thin to not too thin.)
    • old – new, young, youthful, current, fresh, modern, green. (here old was either age or time, hence all antonyms fall into a broader range)
  • Complementary Antonyms: these are the ones that stand in complete contrast to each other. Also known as relational antonyms, the relation of these antonyms are universally opposite
    • push and pull
    • In and out
    • Up and down
    • right and left
    • husband and wife


Rule #3 – Add a prefix

You can easily identify antonyms of any words with the prefix used in it. Most common prefix for antonyms are un, in, dis, ir, de, a, non.

For example:

    • able – unable
    • sane – insane
    • respect – disrespect
    • responsible – irresponsible
    • code – decode
    • symmetrical – asymmetrical
    • living – nonliving

To understand the origin and meaning of Synonyms and Antonyms CLICK HERE!