In general, words with opposite meanings are called antonyms. Is there a word that describes the subset of antonyms that are different only by a prefix where the prefix negates the meaning of the root word?

For instance, hot and cold are antonyms, but don't share a root and would not be described by the term I am looking for.

Paired and unpaired are antonyms and share the same root paired. These words would be described by the term I am looking for.

Other examples:

  • Typical - Atypical
  • Intended - Unintended
  • Enfranchised - Disenfranchised

Lost positives would be a special case of this type of word where only the negated sense of the word is in use, e.g. disgruntled is a commonly used word, but gruntled is not.

A bonus answer would point to a list of such negating prefixes.

  • 2
    I've only heard them called Antonyms, which isn't specific enough to this situation.
    – Hank
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 19:17
  • 5
    Congress - Progress
    – iMerchant
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 19:36
  • 2
    Is it quite as simple as that? I know of words which have more than one "paired negative" - e.g. interested gives rise to both uninterested and disinterested, which have entirely different meanings.
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 22:41
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    Affixed antonyms? But I totally made that up on the spot. It seems to me that these are more just words with affixes that only become opposites because you paired them. Also, are these two lists what you had been looking for? List 1, list 2. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 11:07
  • 1
    @Teacher KSHuang, List 1 would be perfect if it were all-inclusive and I could use it as a lookup table. I might try to create the complete list from a combination and code and manual review. I am starting to think that there is no word and we should start one. Affixed Antonyms is a good candidate.
    – David
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


There's a book that might interest you about antonyms in English.

Antonyms in English: Construals, Constructions and Canonicity by Steven Jones

There's a whole chapter on the difference between "canonical antonym pairs" (such as good/bad) and what the author call "negated antonymous" words (such as good/not good) and if they're an affixal or non affixal negation (such as not happy vs unhappy) . On page 151 the author call these pairs of words that differ only by their affix...

affixal antonyms

as opposed to "lexical antonyms" note that by using the plural of antonym it implies automatically the pair of words with opposite meaning, there's no need to add "pair". enter image description here

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