Synonyms & Antonyms

A synonym of a word is any other word with the same (or at least a very close) meaning.  An antonym is any other word with an opposite meaning.

Many antonyms are trivial - prefix many words with in- or un- and you produce a trivial antonym.  But beware - English is a funny language, and inflammable is (more or less) a synonym for flammable, not an antonym...

Synonyms and antonyms are often used in setting cryptic clues. A synonym is defined as a word having the same meaning as another, and an antonym is a word meaning the opposite of another. A synonym clue might be

(Book and volume are synonyms, as are book and reserve - note the double meaning of "book")

When an antonym is used in a clue, it will usually be as a negative - "not easy" for "hard", for example, or "never used" for "new".

(Unused = new, door = gate, and Newgate is an old London prison)

In an informal way, the majority of crossword clues are based on synonyms and antonyms. A simple read-through clue is asking you to find alternatives for the words given, although these alternatives are likely to be abbreviations or other devices.

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