What is the true antonym of "successive"?

Did the the "true" sound weird?

Well everywhere I looked, I only found subjective antonyms like Broken, Discontinuous, Infrequent, Intermittent, Interrupted, Unconsecutive etc.. But what is the "true" antonym?

For example, if the subjective antonym of "Concentrated" is "Dilute", then the True antonym of "concentrated" is "dispersed". Hope you understand. Or the True antonym of "Forward" is "Backward" or "moving in reverse"

Likewise, if "successive" was understood as something in relation to "progressive", what is its antonym? Definitely something in the lines of "anti-succession" or likewise.

If it does not in fact exist in the English vocabulary, will I be wrong in the convenient neologism "anti-succession"?

The premise is where I was drafting a question in the Microsoft forum, answers.microsoft.com, in which I wanted to know how to view elements in the clipboard. The elements are supposed to be stacked and displayed in "succession" but I was only seeing the last element (that was stored in succession to the previous element(s) that was strangely extant). So to draft the question I had to address the elements that were lost or not displayed, that were in fact stored previously/opposite to succession.

So what is the true antonym or opposite of succession? Thanks immensely!

  • well sorry, my bad. well here it is:
    I don't just want the programmers at Microsoft to know that, the "previous elements" seem to have dropped out of display (of which I could have just said "the elements prior to the only one displayed are not.. err don't seem to be there). I want to specify that the "order" of elements don't "stretch back" from the one's displayed. Now I hadn't hoped to expect that the Programmers at Microsoft are "linguistic morons". The correct word usage may be essential in their coming with the accurate response ye?

  • here it is Trevor. Well what I meant was this: the clipboard programme is supposed to list out all the clipboard elements in order of their employment. so imagine the carriages of a train, starting from the engine (if the engine is the "middle" carriage). there are 5 carriages before/behind the engine and 5 after/in front of the engine. in my case, the problem is not the carriages in front of the engine, but the carriages behind the engine. I want the programmers to know that the carriages behind the engine are not displayed, and not just "displayed", but they are not displayed in the way they should: in order. or the backward order. now is there a word for backward order? "reverse order" could be a solution, but is there a word, an antonym for the forward flow of things, or "succession". there. cheers!

counter-successive sounds perfect thanks indeed Kris. But I still haven't come across the availability of a single word. but thank you all!

  • 3
    Yes, the "true" sounds weird. There is no ISO standard for antonyms. Furthermore, "subjective" is not an antonym of "true"; and antonymy, like division, is not defined for every possible argument. Aug 16, 2013 at 18:03
  • 3
    I really don't see how dilute is a “subjective” antonym of concentrated, nor how dispersed is “true” – in the context of chemistry, that isn't true at all. Likewise, I don't see how a “true” antonym is going to help you in the software context. So I'm not really sure what you're asking here. Aug 16, 2013 at 19:12
  • 3
    Like some others who responded, I don't understand the meaning or importance of true and subjective in the question. Also, and not to split hairs, I'm not sure if you want the antonym of successive or succession. Finally, isn't the point that you want to know what happened to the previous elements - the ones copied to the clipboard prior to the last element? And if so, why not just say that?
    – Jeff Cohan
    Aug 16, 2013 at 23:19
  • 1
    If the "converse" of clockwise is counter-clockwise, surely a successive set of elements can be accessed in a counter-successive order?
    – Kris
    Aug 19, 2013 at 7:14
  • 1
    There is no reverse to successive, because successive only says that the items are sequential, but does not indicate whether the items are arranged in a rising or a falling order. The lists "1,2,3" and "3,2,1" both show a set of successive numbers.
    – boileau
    Jul 5, 2014 at 20:22

5 Answers 5


If successive means

following another without interruption

then the antonym might be disjunctive

marked by breaks or disunity a disjunctive narrative sequence

An alternative might be discontinuous

a (1) : not continuous (2) : not continued : discrete discontinuous features of terrain

b : lacking sequence or coherence

  • disjunctive least serves the purpose. think "reverse order" or "backward flow" or "streaming in reverse". not non-successive but the "opposite flow" of successive. hope this helped. thanks for your response. Aug 18, 2013 at 4:51
  • all of the above addresses the "connection" of elements rather than the arrangement or order that I'm looking for. but thanks! Aug 20, 2013 at 9:15

The basic premise of your question is flawed; many words do not have "one true antonym". This is because most words have multiple meanings or a spectrum of similar meanings with different semantic loads. Even where a word has one clear meaning, that does not mean there is only one concept which stands in clear contrast to it. Is "few" the true antonym of "many" or is "one"?

There are several ways in which multiple events could be shown not to be successive:

  • There might be one large interruption in the sequence, with other conflicting events filling the gap
  • Some or all of the events may happen in parallel
  • There might only be one event

Which of these is truly not successive? All of them (and the list is not exhaustive). Which is most pertinent to you is entirely contextual.

  • no not the connection or obstruction. or the simultaneous occurrence or existence of elements. and not the existence of just one element. but thank you very much. appreciate it Aug 20, 2013 at 9:18

Concentrated has an inward direction to the concept (particles moving closer together and filling more of the space) while dispersed has an outwardness. Seems what you're looking for is an antonym that addresses the forward flow of successive. *Disjunctive* or discontinuous only contribute an opposite meaning to half of the concept of successive (the continuous part, but not the forward or progressive part).

They wouldn't have worked for your forum question but I think you're looking for something along the lines of regressive and retrograde. They both have that sense of flow/continuity as well as a reverse direction.


Your post seems to ask two questions. 1. How could you have worded your forum question?
2. Is there a better antonym for successive than the ones you've found, an antonym that addresses more aspects of the concept of successive than just continuity?

It also seems that #1 gave rise to #2 out of sheer intellectual curiosity.

Answer to #2 already offered.

Answer to #1: It would have sufficed to ask about all the preceding elements (all emphasizing the reverse flow and that you are interested in more than just the few preceding elements) or about all the elements leading up to the one displayed (meaning all the elements from the 1st to the one displayed).

  • your response is the only closest to what I seek thanks. regressive or retrograde are along those lines but what is the correct alternative that I can fix in a sentence that addresses.. hey I think "regressive" does the trick! but I need to find a suitable synonym. thank you, SO VERY MUCH! hope a suitable word exists. Aug 18, 2013 at 4:55

It appears that you and this poster are approaching the same words form opposite directions.

I would use in parallel to describe your circumstance.

  • no sorry this least approaches the solution. rather than parallel, I'm looking for something in the opposite flow or reverse. I think I've got a possible solution up there. "regressive" is a good solution, but I need to look for an equivalent term that fits in the sentence. regressive does indeed fit but it purports an incorrect meaning, like I'm complaining to the programmers that the elements are "reducing" (or similar). but regressive fits in the lines. thank you very much for you time and response! Aug 18, 2013 at 5:08

When wanting to refer to "the elements that were ... stored previously", I would have said "the preceding elements. But, in that context, I don't think you want the "opposite [of] succession", but rather the opposite of, perhaps, "following" or "subsequent".

The definition of "succession" is as follows:

succession noun
1a. a series of people or things that come, happen, etc one after the other;
1b. the process or an instance of this.
2a. the right or order by which one person or thing succeeds another;
2b. the process or act of doing this.
3. [not relevant]
successional adj. successionally adverb. successionless adj.
in succession one after the other.
in quick succession quickly one after the other.

Note that, by definition, "succession" refers to "a series of people or things".

When you were wanting to view a list of items in the clipboard, they were stored sequentially - i.e. one after the other in the sequence in which they were placed in the clipboard. And, yes, you could describe them as stored in succession (one after the other), but any order of succession (order of storage) would be arbitrary because the items were unrelated.

So, bearing in mind that succession refers to a series of people or things:

  1. You can't really have the opposite of a series in that context, so there can be no opposite of succession.

  2. You weren't really interested in the series, but merely in the preceding items in the list, with the actual order or sequence being immaterial (if I understand correctly).

In those circumstances, you merely need a word that describes the items that were stored in the list prior to the item you were looking at, and I think preceding is therefore an apt choice. You could alternatively referred to items that were stored earlier than or prior to the item referred to.

Having said that, one antonym of successor (i.e. the person or item that follows the current one) would be predecessor (i.e. the person or item that precedes (goes before) the current one).

  • certainly very very close to my premise, similar to a previous response. Thank you very much! the only correctioon in your response is that I was "really interested in the series". The opposite of the series of elements. the reverse. the elements in "anti" succession. But what I seek is a word that addresses this situation or description. thank you! Aug 18, 2013 at 5:01

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