Synonyms and Antonyms


Synonyms – are two or more words belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable in some context.

Look – to stare, to gaze, to glance, to peep.

Pretty – good – looking, handsome, beautiful.

Each group comprises a dominant element.

Synonymic dominant – is the most general term of its kind potentially containing the specific features rendered by all the other members of the group.

Types of synonyms:

  • Ideographic – synonyms which differ in the denotational component of meaning i.e. between which a semantic difference is statable.
  • Stylistic – which differ in the connotational component of meaning, i.e. all kinds of emotional, expressive and evaluative overtones.
  • Absolute – which can each other in any given context, without the slightest alteration in denotative or emotional meaning and connotations.
  • Contextual – are synonyms which are similar in meaning only under some specific distributional conditions.
  • Dominant – the notion common to all synonyms of the group without contributing any additional information as to the manner, intensy, duration or any attending feature of the referent.

The sources of synonyms: borrowings, shift of meaning, dialectical words, compounds, shortenings, conversion, euphemisms.

Antonyms – words of the same category of parts of speech which have contrasting meanings such as hat – cold, light – dark, happiness – sorrow.

Morphological classification:

  • ? Root words form absolute antonyms.(write – wrong).
  • ? The presence of negative affixes creates – derivational antonyms(happy – unhappy).

Semantical classification:

  • ? Contradictory notions are mutually opposed and denying one another, i.e. alive means “not dead” and impatient means “not patient”.
  • ? Contrary notions are also mutually opposed but they are gradable; e.g. old and young are the most distant elements of a series like: old – middle – aged – young.
  • ? Incompatibles semantic relations of incompatibility exist among the antonyms with the common component of meaning and may be described as the relations of exclusion but not of contradiction: to say “morning” is to say “not afternoon, not evening, not night”.


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