Random thought for the day:

A single word can have two different antonyms which are not synonyms of one another. For example, synonymy (the condition of two words having the same meaning) has antonyms antonymy (the condition of two words having opposite meaning) and polysemy (the condition of one word having multiple meanings).

Also, “synonymy,” “antonymy,” and “polysemy” are cool words.

Published in: on April 16, 2004 at 11:04  Comments (7)  


  1. one of these days
    One of these days I’m going to understand all this english grammer/ spelling stuff and then come back and read all your post and go ,ahhhh yeah i get it now. Such is the life of me, but hey nothing a couple or more classes can’t fix:)

  2. this post rocks.

  3. It all depends on how you define “antonym.” If the antonym can be the opposite of one concept contained in a multi-concept word, then the number of non-synonymous antonyms is equal to the number of concepts in a word.
    But, if an antonym has to be the opposite of all concepts in a word, then “there can be only one.”
    Cool idea still, almost a model for multi-dimensional thinking, having a hub that connects to multiple unconnected planes. Or something. 😉

  4. Hmm… that’s a good point. Webster’s defines an antonym as “a word of opposite meaning;” my sense is that that can mean inversion of a single component. “Enemy of an enemy” would not be an obvious antonym for “friend of a friend,” for example. For the original example, “polysemy” is a very good antonym for “synonymy” if one is thinking about problems of disambiguating word senses (they’re opposite problems to have to deal with) but not so much if one is writing a thesaurus.
    So does what you just point out show that the degree of antonymy is equal to the degree of polysemy, as demonstrated by “synonymy?” 🙂

  5. Aha! A recursive example . . . you must have planned it that way! ^_^
    On to the next mind-boggling question in life: is Seattle’s Best Coffee as evil if it is in Japan as it is stateside?

  6. Who, me? Never! *halo*
    As far as the second question, I have no idea: Seattle’s Best doesn’t seem to occur much in the Bay Area, and so I have no idea how evil it is here, so I have no basis for comparison. But I’ll bet they don’t have milk crepes. 🙂

  7. that is true. But they do have a wide variety of coffee and non-coffee frozen drinks . . . yum! It’s funny; in the main courtyard of Friesta, I got a great wireless signal, but at SBC, I barely got anything, maybe that’s a sign that their products are okay, but I’m not supposed to stay too long. It was fun douwsing for a good signal as onlookers stared. I should put on a better show next time — wear my chicken bones and wave a small charm around.

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