What are Antonyms? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 0:28 Importance
  • 1:15 Using Antonyms in Writing
  • 1:50 Improving Vocabulary
  • 2:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
In this lesson, we will take a look at antonyms. Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings to other words in a sentence. Using antonyms can help us improve our writing and vocabulary skills.

Definition of Antonyms

An antonym is a word that means the opposite of another word. For instance, the antonym of 'hot' may be 'cold.' The root words for the word 'antonym' are the words 'anti,' meaning 'against' or 'opposite,' and 'onym,' meaning 'name.'

In order to better understand antonyms, let's take a look at what the word 'synonym' means. A synonym is a word that has a similar meaning to or exactly the same meaning as another word. Synonyms and antonyms are exactly the opposite.

Why Are Antonyms Important?

Oddly enough, to better understand the meaning of a word, we can take a look at its antonym, or opposite meaning. For instance, take the word 'morose.' The definition of 'morose' is 'gloomily or sullenly ill-humored.' Sometimes, even reading a dictionary definition is not enough to give us a complete understanding of a word. Most dictionaries provide synonyms and antonyms, as well.

For instance, here are a few listed synonyms for the word 'morose:' 'moody,' 'sour,' 'sulky.' Also, here are a few antonyms: 'cheerful' and 'optimistic.' Now we know that the opposite of 'morose' is cheerful and even optimistic! Taking a look at both the synonyms and antonyms really provides us with a clearer definition.

Using Antonyms in Writing

Sometimes, we get stuck when trying to choose the best word in a sentence, or we tend to use the same words too often. For instance, we might be looking for a word that means the opposite of 'courageous,' but we want to choose a different word than 'scared.' Let's take on the antonym challenge and see if we can find a better word!

When we look up the word 'courageous' and scroll down to the list of antonyms, we see words like: 'chickenhearted,' 'cowardly,' and 'gutless.' These words are more vivid than the word 'scared,' and by using more vivid words in our writing, we improve our writing.

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