A term is antonym to another when it states a concept that
is contrary to or opposed to it. It is an idea that is used in
the field of linguistics when classifying words.
an antonym always acquires this classification by
establishing a link with its opposite. That is to say: no term is antonym by
itself. The same is true of synonyms, which are terms that
express a meaning similar to or equal to that of others.
For example: "young" and "old" are antonyms. The first
concept refers to something or someone of little age or seniority, while the
second notion refers to the opposite: to something or someone of many years of
life or existence. In this way, it can be said that a man cannot
be "young" and "old" simultaneously. If it is "young",
it is not "old" and vice versa, since the antonyms express the
This concept is situated in the field of linguistics, where antonymy is
also spoken of to define the condition of antonym, that is, the relationship
that occurs between two words that have opposite meanings. There are different
types of antonyms; Although they all serve to compare or contrast two
meanings, the nuances provided by each of them are different, as well as the
cases in which they are used.
First, we will talk about reciprocal antonyms, that is,
those that necessarily require the existence of the other. In
this context, we can mention the actions of “pay” and “collect”. For
one person to "pay" for something, another has to "collect" it. You
cannot “pay” a thing if nobody “charges” it.
The strength that we can see in the link between two reciprocal antonyms is
very particular and interesting from a linguistic point of view and, more
precisely, from the perspective of semantics. Once we
understand that each component of this series of pairs always has its
complement, we can take advantage of this dependency to make a richer and more
subtle use of the language.
The complementary antonyms, meanwhile, eliminate
their meanings from each other. If a person is "married",
they cannot be "single". It is impossible to be "married" and,
simultaneously, to be "single".
In this case there is a phenomenon similar to that of reciprocal antonyms, in
that the force that exists in their relationship is impossible to ignore: one
nullifies the other, and this can also serve to optimize the use of language,
since allows us to say more with less.
Thanks to the action that a term produces on its complementary antonym, not
only can we avoid using both in the same sentence, but we can also insinuate
the meaning of one of them simply with the other. For example, if we
take into account the relationship between the words clean and dirty,
someone could say with a certain contempt that " his study was not exactly
clean ", to avoid the use of dirty, the meaning of which is
actually appreciated in your opinion.
The gradual antonyms, finally, exert an opposition that is gradual,
since between the two there are other terms with a different degree. "Hot" and "cold" are
gradual antonyms: among them there are adjectives like "lukewarm" or "temperate".
Here especially the idioms and regionalisms come into play, as well as the
different jargons, since each group of people expresses with different terms and
degrees of precision the concepts related to temperature, color
and intensity of sound, for example. Continuing with the terms cold and hot,
we can say that among them there are many possibilities outside the academic
field of the language, such as being quite hot or chilly.