Difference Between Antonyms and Synonyms

Antonyms vs Synonyms

English language is full of sets of different words that have same or similar meaning, and it also has scores of sets of different words that have opposite or almost opposite meanings. For those who are natives of English speaking countries, there is no problem in appreciating the difference between a synonym and an antonym but for people belonging to other cultures and languages, it is difficult to differentiate between synonyms and antonyms. Let us take a closer look.


If someone is sick, it is right to say that he is ill. Here, it can be seen that sick and ill are two words that have similar meanings. Different words having similar meanings are called synonyms and help people to express their feelings in a better way. Some words have different meanings, and only one meaning coincides with another word. There are experts who claim that no two words have identical meanings in all contexts or usage. Despite this, synonyms can be used interchangeably. If the connotation of a sentence remains the same with two different words, the two words can be referred to as synonyms. Take a look at the following example.

• George took out his car to go to the police station.

• George took out his automobile to get to the police station.

One can easily see that car and automobile mean the same and can be easily interchanged.

Though to die and to expire remain the same and one can use either of the two to refer to a person who has passed away (third synonym), you cannot say that your passport has died (it has obviously expired).


Antonyms are sets of different words that have opposite or nearly opposite meaning. Day and night, black and white, bright and dark, long and short etc are examples of antonyms. Antonyms also tell us that one of the pairs is not like the other. For example if we say that subjects in an experiment were all males, we are in effect saying that they were not females. If someone has long hair, she does not have short hair is what comes first to our mind.

Yes, you can have antonyms of male as female and, in a species, as lion and lioness, but there are no antonyms for a species. It is a cat means it is not a dog, but that doesn’t make a cat and a dog as antonyms. If fat and thin are antonyms, thin is antonym to obese and overweight also because obese and overweight are synonyms.


What is the difference between Antonyms and Synonyms?

• Similar meaning words are called synonyms while apposite meaning words are called antonyms.

• All synonyms of a word are antonyms to the antonym of that word.

• Some words have different meanings, and not all meanings are synonyms of another word.

• Antonyms tell us that one word in the pair is not the same as another word in the pair. For example, if one is tall, he is certainly not short.