Using Synonyms and Antonyms

How to use synonyms and antonyms in your writing.

A synonym is a word that means the same thing as another word. It can be used in place of a word with a matching meaning to add spice and variety to your writing. An antonym is a word that means the opposite of another word. Use antonyms to reverse the meaning of a word in a sentence.

This chapter describes the rules and techniques for employing synonyms and antonyms in your writing.

Avoid Repeated Use of Uncommon Words

Repeated use of an uncommon word in your writing can be annoying and demonstrates the lack of a rich vocabulary. Common words that you can't help but repeat would include a, an, and and. Consider the use of the word foot in the following paragraph.

John lifted his foot and then let his foot drop with a loud bang.

Sometimes repeated words can be avoided by replacing them with a pronoun. Consider this rewrite of the previous example:

John lifted his foot and then let it drop with a loud bang.

Use a Synonym Instead of Word Repetition

Another way to deal with word repetition is using synonyms. Consider the following example:

As John approached the plane, the plane seemed to get bigger.

By replacing the second occurrence of “plane” with a synonym, I can avoid word repetition as in the example:

As John approached the plane, the aircraft seemed to get bigger.

Use synonyms to spice up your writing by sprinkling alternate word choices throughout your document.

Reverse the Meaning of a Word with an Antonym

Rather than replacing a word with an alternate word possessing the same meaning, antonyms can be used to completely reverse the meaning of a word. For example:

An antonym for sleep is wake.

An antonym for sit would be stand.

Using Microsoft Word to Find Synonyms and Antonyms

Microsoft Word provides a mechanism for quickly replacing words with suggested synonyms and even antonyms if you choose. Simply position your cursor on the word you wish to replace and right click your mouse. The drop-down menu displayed includes a Synonyms option. To replace the word simply click on the synonym of choice. Select the Thesaurus option at the end of the menu to find additional synonyms and even antonyms.