Using a dictionary of opposite words in French can help you to write more clearly and to learn additional vocabulary. Similar to a French rhyming dictionary, a dictionary of antonyms will allow you to expand your vocabulary by learning new words. Expanding one's vocabulary is always a sign of improvement in a foreign language.
Using A Dictionary of Opposite Words in French
Many people think in terms of opposites, so it's no wonder that using a dictionary of antonyms is an effective way for some people to find a word that they can't quite put their finger on. Instead of using an online English-French translator to translate old; grab your dictionary of antonyms and look up jeune. In both cases, you should come up with the adjective vieux. French teachers see more opportunity for learning and a better chance of retention by translating as little as possible.
A dictionary of opposite words in French is often a combined synonyms and antonyms dictionary. Not only will you find opposite words of the original word, but you'll also find words that are approximations of the original word. In this way, you'll expand your vocabulary not only by being re-exposed to the word vieux, but also by seeing some of the many synonyms of jeune, such as cadet, vert or frais. Learning which types of contexts lend themselves to each of these synonyms is an excellent exercise in improving your French.
As with many resources, you can go for the printed books or the online tools. You can even use the thesaurus function in Microsoft Word to find opposite words in French.
A range of prices and sizes exist; choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.
- Grand Druide Synonymes et Antonymes: Comprehensive French-language resource; quite expensive if bought new
- Petit-Druide Synonymes et Antonymes: Smaller and less expensive than the Grand-Druide, also less comprehensive resource
- Synonymes, Analogies et Antonymes: Comprehensive, inexpensive resource
- Dictionnaire des synonymes et des antonymes: Comprehensive resource, mid-priced
In Microsoft Word, the thesaurus function can be of great help when looking for the perfect word. Start by selecting the word that you'd like to find a synonym or antonym for, and then going to Tools-Language-Thesaurus (or hit SHIFT-F7). You'll see that Word creates a list of meanings for the word you selected; now select the meaning closest to what you had in mind, and a list of synonyms and antonyms will be generated for that word. Generally speaking, there are many more synonyms than antonyms generated. The Word thesaurus will always help you in cases like vieux'/'jeune; however, more complicated and nuanced antonyms are best left to more powerful resources.
Two websites offer synonym and antonym lookup in French at the click of a button online. These require an Internet connection, but are much more comprehensive resources than the thesaurus function in Microsoft Word.
- Lexilogos: Type in the word you'd like an opposite for, then click on the dictionary Synonymes. The resulting page will give you the synonyms AND the antonyms for the word that you typed in; look toward the bottom of the results page for the header Antonymes to find the words that are opposites of the word you looked up.
- Synonymes.com: Excellent resource, works by typing in the word you want a synonym or antonym for. The results page gives synonyms that are different nuances the original word, as well as the antonyms that are opposite to each nuanced synonym. This is an excellent resource for the discerning writer looking for synonym/antonym solutions.
These online sources are available from anywhere there's an Internet connection. If your printed antonyms dictionary is at home, you still have access to a wealth of French information online!