Difference between Synonym and Antonym

Updated on September 28, 2016

The English language is a colorful and beautiful one because it doesn’t have only one particular word to describe something. It is not content with having just one word to express a concept. We have synonyms and antonyms to use. But what are these two terms about? For people whose main language is different, it can be hard to differentiate these two.

Definitions

synonym

Synonyms are words that have similar meanings. They are often used to help people communicate their feelings in other ways. Synonyms can be used interchangeably.

Examples:

  • Mary’s answer surprised me.
  • Mary’s response surprised me.

The two words, answer and response, have the same meaning and can be interchanged. Not every synonym can be interchangeable. For example, nibbling a cookie is different from devouring a cookie. Nibble is taking a small bite while devour is swallowing it whole.

Examples of synonyms

Nouns

  • Power and force
  • Important and significant
  • Baby and infant
  • Car and automobile
  • Freedom and liberty
  • Organization, management, institution
  • King, monarch, ruler, czar
  • Image, illustration, icon, figure
  • Home, house, residence, dwelling

Adjectives

  • Intelligent, smart, brilliant, bright
  • Beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, stunning
  • Empty, vacant, abandoned, uninhabited
  • Sad, unhappy, sorrowful, distressed
  • Big, huge, enormous, gigantic

Verbs

  • Run, sprint, dash
  • Leap, jump, hop, skip
  • Talk, speak, communicate, chat
  • Smile, beam, grin

Antonyms are the opposite of synonyms and they are two words that are the opposite of each other.

Examples of antonyms

Nouns

  • Noise – silence
  • Beginning – end
  • Summer – winter
  • Friend – enemy
  • Day – night
  • Life – death
  • South – north

Adjectives

  • Beautiful – ugly
  • Courteous – rude
  • Clever – stupid
  • Empty – full
  • Cheerful – dreary
  • Dry – wet
  • Healthy – sick

Verbs

  • Increase – decrease
  • Brighten – fade
  • Encourage – discourage
  • Hide – reveal
  • Approve – disapprove
  • Create – destroy
  • Close – open

Synonym vs Antonym

What is the difference between a synonym and an antonym? Their difference simply lies in their meaning. Synonyms are words that have the same or nearly identical meanings, while antonyms are words that have opposite meanings.

Comparison Chart

SynonymsAntonyms
Words that have similar meaningsWords that have opposite meanings
Examples:

  • Small – tiny
  • Angry – mad
  • Bucket – pail
  • Crazy – insane
  • Loyal – faithful
Examples:

  • Straight – crooked
  • Generous – stingy
  • Compliment – insult
  • Positive – negative
  • Hero – villain

Video

Here’s a video with a simple explanation on the difference between synonyms and antonyms.