denoting one and the same referent from different points of view (to sell-

to buy, to give to receive).

Derivational antonyms may be affixal (happy-unhappy, logical-

illogical) or suffixal (hopeful-hopeless).

It is not always possible to replace a word by its opposite. Where it

is possible you may notice that some words have several opposites depending

on the context.

The opposite of old, for example, can be new or young depending

on the situation.


There are some antonyms that are called auto-antonyms - words that

have two opposite meanings. For example, to "clip" may mean to cut a little

piece off, or to put a little piece on. To "look over" may mean careful

scrutiny or that you missed an important detail. Sometimes the antonymy may

be historical: "nice" used to denote an unpleasant quality. There is a

discussion of whether any generalities could be made about such pairs. Are

they regularly motivated, or always a coincidence? Meanwhile, here are more

auto-antonyms that got left out of last post: One auto-antonym is "moot",

which at once means "suitable for debate" and "not worth discussing".

Impregnable: able to impregnated or inable to be pregnated,

cope(s)mate: used to mean antagonist and now means partner or comrade, It

turns out that they were having a week celebrating "fence-setters",

evidently another term for what is calling auto-antonyms. BRUCE NEVIN

reminds us of an intercontinental auto-antonym pair: "public school" in

Britain is "private school" in the USA and vice versa.

Infer: historically (and now, informally) this means "imply" as well.

Rent, lease: several pointed out to me that these means both lend and

borrow. In addition, Chinese operates similarly with respect to this pair,

and WOLFGANG LIPP notes a similar auto-antonymy to represent "give" and

"take" in pronunciation but not in writing.

Learn/teach: in "sub" - Standard English, these two meanings fuse into

learn, as they do in standard Russian uchit' Here is sensitive: this

may describe either someone with profound understanding for the feelings of

others, and tolerates differences of opinion (thus "sensitivity training"

for group leaders) as well as a paranoid who doesn't listen to what people

are really saying, and decides to take everything as a personal insult.

Hole/whole: Spelled the first way, an entire absence of matter; the

second, entire presence. This reminds me of "pit" which can be either a

hollow or the stone of a fruit. Which reminds me of "seeded" oranges

(insert your favourite fruit here) - oranges with seeds (as opposed to

navel oranges, which have no seeds), OR oranges that have had their seeds

removed. If you think you're beginning to see some patterns here, you're

not alone! There were received a few theories on the ultimate essence of

auto-antonymy, historical, psychological, and sociological approaches.

These theories show that auto-antonymy comes about for a variety of


I've been enjoying the discussion of words that are their own


At first I thought the classic example of Latin Altus "high" or "deep"

might fit in, but as I thought about it I figured it was just unmarked

for point of view (say when cleaning out an empty swimming pool then

"Deep" becomes "high") so I just looked to see if it was on the list and

got a comment. No. Good. But one that I have long wondered about is

"risk" as in "he risked winning the game". I was shocked (as a teenager)

the first time I saw "he risked losing the game" (or something like that)

in print, because I previously thought (and am still inclined toward)

the complement of risk being the desirable result, not the undesirable

one. Whether or not this fits into this discussion, I wonder if anyone

else has had a similar (or opposite) reaction or any thoughts

about what's going on in the case of "risk"[2].


Teaching antonyms requires great skill and practice. For this purpose

the teacher uses various techniques and methods.

For example, while teaching antonyms small and big he uses

pictures for presenting them. He says: In these pictures you see two balls.

(The balls should differ only in size.) This is a small ball, and this is a

big ball. This ball is small, and that ball is big. Now, Sasha, come up to

the picture and point to the small ball (big ball).

Then the teacher shows another picture with two houses in it a white

house and a yellow house, and he asks another pupil to point to the white

house, to the u yellow house, and so on.

The teacher may use gestures, for example, for conveying the meaning

of stand up, sit down. He says: Lena, stand up. He shows with his hands

what she must do. Lena stands up. Now, sit down. Again with the movement of

his hands he shows the girl what she must do. The other pupils listen to

the teacher and watch what Lena is doing. Then many pupils are invited to

perform the actions.

If the antonyms are difficult for understanding the teacher may use

the learners mother tongue and translate them directly or to give the

analogies. For example, the teacher says:

, - narrow.


The teacher must be sure of his vocabulary. . These questions

obviously test vocabulary. So if yours could use some work, spend time

improving it. Apart from having a great vocabulary, you can also do well on

antonyms by using test-smarts and strategy.

Antonyms present you with a single word followed by five answer

choices containing words or short phrases. Your task here is to find the

answer choice thats most nearly opposite in meaning to the original word.

If youre stumped about the meaning of a word, try to think of a context

where youve heard the word before. You may not be able to recite the

definition of the word covert, for instance, but youve probably heard the

phrase covert operation to describe some type of cloak-and-dagger

activity. Also, use your knowledge of foreign languages and word roots to

help decode the meaning of a tough word. For instance, you may not know

what benediction means, but you may be able to determine that the root bene

means good from knowing the more common word benevolent. That may be

all you need to answer a question if you spot a word like curse among the


Although antonym questions test knowledge of vocabulary more directly

than do any of the other verbal question types, antonym questions measure

not merely the strength of your vocabulary but also your ability to reason

from a given concept to its opposite. Antonyms may require only rather

general knowledge of a word, or they may require that you make fine

distinctions among answer choices. Antonyms are generally confined to

nouns, verbs, and adjectives; answer choices may be single words or


Here are some approaches that may be helpful in answering antonym


1. Remember that you are looking for the word that is the most nearly

opposite to the given word; you are not looking for a synonym. Many

words do not have a precise opposite, so you must look for the answer

choice that expresses a concept most nearly opposite to that of the

given word.

2. In some cases more than one of the answer choices may appear at first

to be opposite to the given word. When this happens, try to define

more precisely or in greater detail the meaning of the given word.

3. In weighing answer choices, it is often useful to make up a sentence

using the given word or words. Substitute the answer choices in the

phrase or sentence and see which best fits. The best answer will be

the one that reverses the meaning or tone of the sentence or phrase.

4. Remember that a particular word may have more than one meaning.

5. Use your knowledge of root, prefix, and suffix meanings to help you

determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.


What is a word-retrieval problem?

The terms word retrieval problem or word finding difficulty imply

that the person knows and understands the word, and has used it correctly

before. However, they have difficulty retrieving such known words at times.

Children and adults with language disorders are frequently found to have

word retrieval difficulties. Often when a person (child or adult) is having

difficulty retrieving a word they will have the sense that it is on the

tip of their tongue: a state of affairs familiar to all of us; at other

times they seem simply to go blank.


These activities are intended for children .

Not all of the activities will suit all children - so be selective.

Put the emphasis on listening, thinking and speaking.

The activities are aimed at having the child retrieve known words -

not at extending the vocabulary by teaching new words.

Use a minimum of visual cues. If the word to be retrieved does not

come easily for the child, provide an auditory cue (e.g., say the first

sound or syllable of the word) or a verbal clue (e.g., it rhymes with...).

Give the child time to think, but dont leave it so long that they are

struggling to find the word. Rather than letting them persist

unsuccessfully, tell them the answer, and go on with the next few items.

Then ask them the one that was difficult again.

Aim for a high success-rate to encourage motivation and confidence.

Adapt the tasks to suit the (developmental) age of the person. Talk

about words and word-meanings.

As natural opportunities arise talk about such topics as Why is Big

Bird called Big Bird? Talk about people being named after other people.

Talk about why certain names might have been chosen for pets and TV

characters (Cookie Monster, Vinny the Poo, Uncle Scrooge, The Fat

Controller, etc). Try to work these conversations in around topics of

genuine interest to the child.


Do this as a sentence completion (cloze) activity (e.g., The opposite

of hot is...) or use a question-and-answer format (e.g., What is the

opposite of hot?), or as a confrontation naming task using pictures in

which the child has to name opposites pictures as rapidly as they can

(e.g., hot cold, wet dry, big little, fast slow, deep shallow, apart


( Play word games involving differences

For example, What is different about a bird and a plane? They can

both fly, but they are different because...

( Checking test

Each of the following questions begins with a single word in capital

letters. Five answer choices follow. Select the answer choice that has the

meaning most opposite to the word in capitals.


(A) estimate (B) fail (C) get ahead of (D) flow out of (E) retain


(A) surly

(B) vapid (C) damp (D) steady (E) sweet


(A) lurid

(B) healthful (C) peaceful (D) morose (E) rancorous

( Answers

This question type is heavily based on vocabulary. The better your

vocabulary, the better you will do. But there are a few tricks you can try

to use. For example, if a choice doesnt have a clear opposite, it cant be

the correct answer. Such words as hinterland or automobile dont have

very clear opposites and would be incorrect if you were to see them as

answer choices. In this case, answer choice (A) does not have a clear

opposite and can be eliminated even if you dont know what cede means.

Also, if its a tough question and the keyword is really hard,

remember to stay away from choices that are too good to be true. The hard

questions, which are the last few questions of each question type, often

contain choices that are misleading or tricky. For instance, the word

cede will remind many people of succeed, so theyll pick (B). But the

test maker will never reward students for making mistakes. (B) cant be

correct. By the same logic, you could probably eliminate (C) and (D)

because cede will remind some people of recede, as in receding tide.

That leaves you with choice (E) as the right answer. Cede actually means

to yield or surrender, which is in fact the opposite of retain.

( Note: You will seldom, if ever, be able to eliminate all four

wrong answers to an antonym question just by using these kinds of guessing

strategies. They can help you eliminate a few choices and increase your

guessing odds, but the best way to tackle antonyms is to know what kinds of

words tend to show up on the GRE, make flashcards of them, and improve your


1. C

Cede is to give up ones rights or possessions. The most opposite phrase in

meaning is to get ahead of.

2. E

Something that is ACRID is sharp and biting to taste or smell. The

word most opposite in meaning is sweet.

3. B

NOISOME can mean harmful or injurious. The best opposite to this is

therefore healthful.


| | |Score |

|FACETS |Handout | |

| |Prefix: | |

|1. What is the prefix that gives the |a) -im b) il- c) in- | |

|opposite meaning of happy? |d) ir- e) un- | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................| | |

|................ |2. a) im- b) un- c) | |

|2. What prefix makes the word possible |ir- d) il- e) dis- | |

|into something you cannot do? | | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................|3. a) dis- b) im- c) | |

|............... |un- d) ir- e) il- | |

|3. Which prefix creates the antonym for | | |

|practical? | | |

|Write the word |4. a) im- b) il- c) | |

|here:....................................|un- d) dis- e) ir- | |

|............... | | |

|4. Choose the prefix that creates the | | |

|antonym for satisfied. |5. a) dis- b) ir- c) | |

|Write the word |un- d) im- e) un- | |

|here:....................................| | |

|............... | | |

|5. The prefix that creates the opposite |6. a) ir- b) il- c) | |

|of the word patient is... |un- d) dis- e) in- | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................|7. a) dis- b) un- c) | |

|.............. |in- d) im- e) il- | |

|6. What word means the opposite of | | |

|human? | | |

|Write the word |8. a) un- b) dis- c) | |

|here:....................................|ir- d) im- e) il- | |

|.............. | | |

|7. And the prefix that creates the |9. a) un- b) ir- c) | |

|antonym for imaginative is? |dis- d) im- e) in- | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................|10 a) un- b) dis- c) | |

|.............. |in- d) im- e) ir- | |

|8. What is the antonym of the word | | |

|legal? | | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................| | |

|.............. | | |

|9. What is the antonym of regular? | | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................| | |

|.............. | | |

|10. The opposite of responsible is: | | |

|Write the word | | |

|here:....................................| | |

|.............. | | |


Purpose: To review vocabulary. Sometimes, new words can be added to

the set, as long as the number of new words s small and not disruptive. A

second purpose, if the game is played as a team activity, is to stimulate

conversation among the team membersI think 7 matches 23. Do you

remember where ____ is? Finally, the game, like all the card games, is fun

and contributes to group building.

Targeted Skill: vocabulary development

Preparation: Choose a category, e.g. antonyms. Write a word on each of

15 cards and the matching antonym on another 15 cards. Shuffle the cards

well and then turn the over and number them from 1 to 30 on the back.

Because the purpose of this game is to review something that has been

taught rather than teach something new, go over the pairs before the game

begins to be sure everybody knows what the 15 pairs are.

( Procedure:

1. Lay the cards out face down with the numbers showing.

2. Taking turns, the students call out 2 numbers. Turn over the called

cards. If the cards dont match (chances are they wont for the first

few turns), the cards are turned back over.

3. When a student makes a match, the matched areas are removed from the

lay-out and that student gets another turn, continuing until the cards

picked dont match.

4. When all the cards have been matched, the student with the largest pile



1. The game can be played as a team activity. One person from each team is

the spokesperson for the teams collective effort to remember

locations. Students can take turns being the spokesperson.

2. When a match is made, the player can be required to use the two card

words in a sentence. If the player cant do this, the cards are retuned

to the layout, and the next player gets he opportunity to match and use

the two words.


1. adjective synonyms (big-large; next-following; skeptical-doubtful);

2. antonyms (warm-cool; light-heavy);

3. two-word verbs: separable (find out - discover);

4. two-word verbs; inseparable (come back - return);

5. prefixes (un - believable);

6. idioms (by the way - incidentally);

7. proverbs (Time - heals all things.).


The following activity develops the childrens understanding of the

meanings of the above two terms, while increasing their range of


1) Begin by explaining the two terms, giving examples to illustrate the


2) Have a list of words which have lots of synonyms / antonyms. Some are

listed here:

|strong |big |happy |short |soft |fast |easy |

|fat |nice |new |good |quiet |bright |warm |

3) Split the class into an even number of groups. Label half of the groups

Synonym and half of the groups Antonym.

4) Say one of the words on your word list. Each group then has to think of

as many synonyms and antonyms for that word as possible (depending on the

groups label given earlier). The children can have a fixed time limit to

do this, or can continue until they run out of words.

5) Now count up the number of words each group has produced and award

points to the group with the longest list.

6) Repeat using different words. You could also swap the groups, so the

Synonyms groups now find antonyms and vice versa.

7) This would also be a useful exercise in using a thesaurus, so if there

were enough for one per group, the children could use these to add to their

own lists.

Antonyms: Students fold a piece of construction paper in half. They

look through the newspaper to find and cut out words or pictures that are

antonyms. They write or paste the antonym words or pictures on opposite

sides of the construction paper[3].


Please check to see if the question is asking for an antonym or synony

|1|Give the antonym for forward (1 pt) |

|.| |

| |[pic][A] advance |

| |[pic][B] ahead |

| |[pic][C] backwards |

| |[pic][D] behind |

|2|Are the following antonyms or synonyms? (FEARLESS/BRAVE) (1 pt) |

|.| |

| | |

| |[pic][A] Synonyms |

| |[pic][B] Antonyms |

|3|What is the antonym of no ? (1 pt) |

|.| |

| |[pic][A] yes |

| |[pic][B] forget |

| |[pic][C] eat |

| |[pic][D] know |

|4|True or False: An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of |

|.|another word. (1 pt) |

| | |

| |[pic][A] True |

| |[pic][B] False |


The process of teaching a foreign language is a complex one: as with

many other subjects, it has necessarily to be broken down into components

for purposes of study: the teaching acts of (1) presenting and explaining

new material; (2) providing practice; and (3) testing.

In principle, the teaching processes of presenting, practicing and

testing correspond to strategies used by many good learners trying to

acquire a foreign language on their own. They make sure they perceive and

understand new language; they make conscious efforts to learn it through;

and they check themselves.

In the class, it is teachers job to promote these three learning

processes by the use of appropriate teaching acts. Thus, he or she:

presents and explains new material in order to make it clear,

comprehensible and available for learning; gives practice to consolidate

knowledge; and tests, in order to check what has been mastered and still

needs to be learned and reviewed.

These acts may not occur in this order, and may sometimes be combined

within one activity; nevertheless good teachers are aware which is their

main object at any point in a lesson.

In modern teaching materials now in use the words pupils are to learn

pass through the following stages:

1. Pupils listen to the words in sentences arranged in a structural group.

2. They learn the meaning of the words in various contexts.

3. Pupils learn the forms of the words.

4. They perform various exercises with the words in phrases and structures

to assimilate the usage of the words.

5. Pupils use the words in speaking in various situations.

The rules, techniques, methods and structures mentioned in this paper

are available for teaching any unit of vocabulary and antonyms as well.

Following these learning processes you will achieve a step and will be

successful in teaching antonyms and vocabulary in the whole.


1. . ., 1967.

2. . . . .

. . . ., , 1967.

3. .. . . .,

, 1978.

4. . ., ,


5. . . ., , 1963.

6. . .. Basic English Lexicology. , 2000.

7. Flower J. Berman M. Build your vocabulary 2. LTP, London, 1998.

8. Ur P. A Course in Language Teaching: Practice and Theory. Cambridge

University, 1997.

9. The All Nations Dictionary (International Phonetic Alphabet). All

Nations Literature, Colorado Springs, 1992.


[1] See: . .,


[2] LINGUIST List 6.86 p.-32/1995/ Dr. Alex Eulenberg USA Department of

Speech, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

[3] This idea contributed by Mrs. Amada Prez

: 1, 2