Which Are the Most Often Used Opposites?

I found the most used opposites in a book about word frequencies in English, and thought you might find this interesting.

The book, Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English by Geoffrey N. Leech, Paul Raysona and Andrew Wilson, contains many interesting lists of words that are used the most by English speakers.frequencies

Here is a note about opposites, or antonyms:








The most frequently used is not good and bad, as you might have thought, although they come in second place.

The Most Popular Antonyms

The most used antonyms are old and new. Or rather new and old.

What’s the explanation for this?

I don’t know. It could be because of all the (flee) market websites, where people try to sell their stuff. Let’s not forget that Amazon is one of the largest websites in the world and there are millions of pages about new books and old books. I understand they have the same kinds of websites in China.

And there are many pages where people talk about their age, I guess, and how old or how young they look/are. Think of all the gossip columns and advertising. Young is an extremely popular word too.

Positive Words are More Popular than Negative Words

New enjoys double the popularity of old.

As you can see, there is a note explaining on the side that positive words (in most cases) appear more often than words with a negative meaning.

That’s good news for people who complain that the media are full of things that make you sad, and that internet trolls (you know, people who post weird messages on social media) rule the internet. People in general write and say many more positive words than petty negative ones.

This rule explains the new and old.

It also explains full and empty. Full is more than five times more popular than empty.

It’s also interesting that true is used five times more than false.


It doesn’t explain easy and difficult though. You’d expect that easy would be more popular to use than difficult, as everybody loves easy and hates difficult. Or perhaps not: difficult is 11% more popular than easy.

And you? Which opposites do you use a lot? Do you use more positive words than negative ones?

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