I'd suspect that many people would agree with the statement that the antonym of "in" is "out", except for some peculiar situations perhaps. My natural chain of shower-thoughts led me to the word "within". The antonym of "within" from many online thesauri is "outside".

This seemed logical to me, but if you consider the relationship between "outside" and "inside", being antonyms, only the prefix [in-, out-] change to reverse the meaning of the words. Shouldn't the same principle of changing the [in-, out-] to reverse the meaning hold true to the word "within"?

I suspect many people will say that "within" is a synonym of "inside", thus justifying the antonym "outside" but is there something more to this?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    I've read some classic novels that used "without" to mean "outside." Jul 10, 2019 at 3:52
  • 1
    @aparente001 Some societies discover enemies within; others, without.
    – tchrist
    Jul 10, 2019 at 3:56
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    Outwith is often used as the antonym of within in cases where it wouldn't really be possible to replace within with inside. I'd say inside is used to describe the literal location of something in space, but tends to be avoided when the meaning is more metaphorical e.g. within my heart, within the text itself. Within is also preferred where the important thing is whether a boundary has been crossed, and of course this can also be metaphorical within the law, within the exception.
    – user339660
    Jul 10, 2019 at 6:01
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    So far the comments address situations where within is equivalent to inside, whereas for me, the interesting situation is where inside would not be a good fit. As I say, there is outwith, but in fairness that might be said to be Scottish.
    – user339660
    Jul 10, 2019 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


As an antonym of within, without is an archaic, literary form:

outside (prep.):

  • "the barbarians without the gates"

outside (adverb):

  • "the enemy without"


Old English wiðutan "outside of, from outside," literally "against the outside" (opposite of within), see with + out (adv.).

As a word expressing lack or want of something (opposite of with), attested from c. 1200. In use by late 14c. as a conjunction, short for without that.


  • Also see George Harrison's song "Within you, without you". Jul 10, 2019 at 4:18

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