In general, antonyms refer to words that carry opposite meanings. However, there are different forms when it comes to the 'oppositeness', and they include complementarity, converse, multiple taxonomy and gradable antonymy.
Complementaries (also 'binary antonyms' or 'binary taxonomy')They truly represent oppositeness of meaning. In other words, they are mutually exclusive.
ConversesConverses show a reciprocal relationship between a pair of words. They are usually seen in words about family and social relations, and space and time relations.
Tony is Ann's brother. Ann is Tony's sister.
The light is above the table. The table is below the light.
Cathy is Brian's mentee. Brian is Cathy's mentor.
Gradable Antonyms (also 'gradable opposites', 'polar opposites' and 'antonyms')Some antonyms are gradable. The following examples are gradable antonyms shown in a scale:
- never / hardly ever / seldom / sometimes / often / always
- freshman / sophomore / junior / senior
Multiple Incompatibles (also 'multiple taxonomy')Some words form a miniature system of meaning. Some of them form a 'closed' system which new members cannot be added. Others are 'open-ended' systems which allow new members to join.
Insects: cockroach, butterfly, caterpillar, ant, etc.
Fish: salmon, cod, bass, eel, shark, etc.
Transportation: taxi, train, bicycle, bus, airplane, etc.