Synonyms and antonyms: what they are, types, difference

Synonyms and antonyms are related to the meaning of words. Thus, terms that have the same or a close meaning are called “synonyms”, which can be perfect or imperfect. Words that have an opposite meaning are considered “antonyms”, which can be contradictory, contradictory or correlative.

See too: Polysemy — phenomenon characterized by the existence of a term with more than one meaning

Synonyms and Antonyms Summary

  • Synonyms are terms that have the same or an approximate meaning.

  • Synonyms can be perfect or imperfect.

  • Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning.

  • Antonyms can be contradictory, contradictory or correlative.

Video lesson on synonyms and antonyms

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What are synonyms?

Synonyms are words that present the same or approximate direction:

  • equal and similar;

  • car and automobile;

  • die and pass away;

  • partial and unfair;

  • joy, happiness and satisfaction;

  • correctness, accuracy and straightness;

  • action, activity and movement;

  • intent, intent and purpose.

→ Types of synonyms

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In principle, synonyms can be:

  • perfect — the meaning is the same in all contexts:

learned the alphabet when he was six years old.


learned the alphabet when he was six years old.

Let's see the example of these same words in another situation:

he knew the alphabet by heart.


he knew the alphabet by heart.

  • imperfect — the meaning is only similar:

juliana turned off the files.


juliana extinguished the files.

Important: Some scholars understand that there are no perfect synonyms, since different contexts are responsible for different nuances of meaning.

What are antonyms?

Antonyms are words that have opposite direction:

  • beauty and ugliness;

  • expensive and cheap;

  • simple and complex;

  • slow and fast;

  • just and unjust;

  • far and close;

  • perfect and imperfect;

  • drunk and sober.

→ Types of antonyms

According to grammarian Evanildo Bechara, the antonyms can be:

  • contradictory:

    Note that the word “war”, for example, refutes the word “peace”, as one term eliminates the other.

  • contrary:

Note that “light”, for example, is just the opposite of “heavy”; this relationship, therefore, does not present contradiction.

  • correlatives:

Note that the nouns “father” and “mother”, for example, despite being opposites, have a correlation between them, since a father and a mother are beings that perform a similar function.

Check out our podcast: 10 words to enrich vocabulary

Differences between synonyms and antonyms

Synonyms are characterized by similarity in meaning:

the rug is under the table.


the rug is underneath of the table.

The antonyms, by opposition of meaning:

the dog is about the bed.


the dog is under the bed.

Solved exercises on synonyms and antonyms

question 1

(Enem 2001) In daily conversations, the word “proper” is often used, and it adjusts to various situations. Read the dialog examples:


— Vera dresses differently!

"That's right, it's just that she has a style. own.


'Lena's seen this movie a dozen times!' I can't see what's so wonderful about him.

- is that he is own for teenager.


"Dora, what do I do?" I'm so worried about Fabinho! My son is impossible!

- Relax, Tania! É own of age. Over time, he settles down.

In occurrences I, II and III, “proprio” is synonymous with, respectively,

A) suitable, particular, typical.

B) peculiar, suitable, characteristic.

C) convenient, suitable, particular.

D) suitable, exclusive, convenient.

E) peculiar, exclusive, characteristic.


Alternative B

The word “proper” can be replaced, respectively, by the following synonyms: “style peculiar”, “adequate for teenager" and "characteristic of age”.

question 2

All of the alternatives below have a pair of antonyms, except:

A) beneficial / harmful.

B) big/small.

C) right/wrong.

D) objective/purpose.

E) poor/rich.


Alternative D

The terms “objective” and “purpose” are synonymous.

By Warley Souza
Portuguese teacher

Would you like to reference this text in a school or academic work? Look:

SOUZA, Warley. "Synonyms and antonyms"; Brazil School. Available in: Accessed March 25, 2022.
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