We would often say there is "an opportunity" somewhere, but I can't find any evidence of a word to describe a dearth of opportunity. It's derived from opportune, which has inopportune as a negation, but the shape of an inopportunity doesn't seem correct and is very clunky to say. Is there a single word meaning "no opportunity"?

  • In many cases the antonym is "prejudice".
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 20, 2015 at 12:24
  • 2
    Alternatively, there's "risk" (something which may happen, but with a negative value, and therefore to be avoided instead of aimed for).
    – MSalters
    Aug 20, 2015 at 15:27
  • 1
    Are you looking for merely a lack of opportunity ("dearth", as you put it) or an abundance of inopportune (i.e. inconvenient, inappropriate) conditions? The two are distinctly different - I may not have any opportunities, but that doesn't mean I'm suffering inopportune conditions.
    – talrnu
    Aug 20, 2015 at 16:58

4 Answers 4


In business management context, the antonym of 'opportunity' is 'threat'. An 'opportunity' by definition is a circumstance where one has possibility of gaining some benefit, and a 'threat' is exactly the opposite - a circumstance where one has possibility of some loss.

However, in day-to-day context, we could take 'adversity' as antonym for 'opportunity'. 'Adversity' here meaning an unfavorable condition/circumstance, whereas 'opportunity' meaning favorable condition/circumstance.

  • I don't see adversity as a very fitting antonym. Example sentences: Next week we'll have the opportunity to go fishing. My daughter has an interview tomorrow - what an opportunity! I think misfortune would be a closer antonym than adversity: My daughter's interview got cancelled - what misfortune! Unfortunately, I can't go fishing next week.)
    – J.R.
    Aug 20, 2015 at 10:35
  • Of course! I had forgotten about SWOT. This makes me realise that in the question I am thinking of a lack of opportunity, rather than something which pushes in the opposite direction to an opportunity. That may not actually be an antonym at all :/
    – glenatron
    Aug 20, 2015 at 10:43
  • 1
    (+1) Nothing new to add to your answer but bad luck and a bunch of possible antonyms at : powerthesaurus.org/opportunity/antonyms
    – Eilia
    Aug 20, 2015 at 12:36
  • @Eilia that is a useful list, although many words seem totally irrelevant, possibly "Barrier" is closest to what I was seeking.
    – glenatron
    Aug 20, 2015 at 14:59
  • @glenatron, agree with you, however I could not edit the list!
    – Eilia
    Aug 20, 2015 at 15:02

Dead-end is used as both adjective and noun to convey the notion of lack of opportunity. (The Free Dictionary).

To the extent that you’re also considering antonyms for “opportunity” as well as terms describing the absence thereof (e.g., my earlier suggestion of “dead-end,” above), the words ‘opportunities’ and ‘pitfalls’ are sometimes juxtaposed to show contrast (if not opposition), especially when discussing those that are hidden (although slightly redundant with 'pitfall') and/or potential.

Pitfall/noun = a danger or problem that is hidden or not obvious at first (Merriam-Webster)

And to add one more suggestion for the “absence of opportunity” angle of your quest to go with “dead-end,” since many opportunities are unfortunately ‘wasted,’ perhaps a “wasteland” could describe the place or state where these wasted opportunities go to languish alongside those that never were.

Wasteland/noun/3 = something, as a period of history, phase of existence, or locality, that is spiritually or intellectually barren. (Dictionary[dot]com)


I fear it is not quite the same, but perhaps you can use misfortune or contretemps, if you want to imply the sense of an unfortunate event as opposed to a favorable combination of circumstances.

Or perhaps you can use inconvenience or hindrance if you want to imply the sense of a difficulty

  • A hindrance may be right, but it doesn't quite convey the simple absence of opportunity, the difference between a wall and a door. I realise that is probably not a true antonym, but I don't know what the correct term for that kind of thing is. If only there was a site where I could find out...
    – glenatron
    Aug 20, 2015 at 10:46

Jeopardy carries the idea of dividing instead of multiplying. Definition of jeopardy: danger of loss, harm, or failure. legal Definition of jeopardy. 1 : exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury. 2 : the danger of conviction that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense.

  • 1
    You need to properly cite any definition you get from a dictionary.
    – Laurel
    Mar 3, 2018 at 15:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.