It happens to even the most fluent of writers, and it’s probably happened to you: All of a sudden the right word seems just out of reach. You know what you want to express—or exactly the opposite of what you want to express—but, to find just the right synonym or antonym, you need to turn to the trusty thesaurus. And, thanks to the Internet, finding the perfect word to convey what you want to say no longer requires a massive book. A plethora of synonyms and antonyms is just a click away. Just make sure that you’re not guilty of any of these hilarious examples of how not to use a thesaurus.
The Internet also makes it easy to find the most popular of these online searches. According to the team at thesaurus.com, the word that people looked up synonyms for most often in 2018 was “good.” In case you’ve considered making the same search yourself, some of the most popular synonyms of “good” are “excellent,” “favorable,” and “satisfactory.” The perfect choice depends on just how “good” whatever you’re describing is!
The thesaurus.com team also compiled the full top 20 synonym searches for the year, and “good” is just the beginning. Half of them are commonly used adjectives, descriptors that could use a little spicing up. In addition to “good,” wordsmiths also looked for synonyms to words like “happy,” “beautiful,” and “great.” “Bad,” the opposite of the number-one word, made the list as well, coming in at number 11. A few verbs made the list, like “find” and “create,” and several of the other words can be both verbs and nouns, such as “experience,” “change,” and “help.” Making the fourth spot on the list is the familiar, but perhaps overused, transition word “however.” Check out the full list below.
As for antonyms, those popular searches tended to be fewer commonplace words and more conceptual ones. This is most likely because people aren’t necessarily looking to replace a simple, common word with a more interesting one, as they usually are for synonyms, but rather to express something that is very much not a concept that they’re more familiar with. This is why people looked up antonyms for words like “empathy,” “advocate,” and “humble.” We bet you never knew that these 20 words are their own opposites.
To find this list, we used SEMrush software to find the top 20 search queries, in Google U.S., containing the word “antonym” over the last 12 months. For antonyms, the top search was for opposites of “benefit.” Some of the most popular antonyms for “benefit” as a verb are “hinder,” “worsen,” and “harm.” In noun form, you could use words like “detriment” or “obstruction.”
The adjective form of “benefit,” which is “beneficial,” also makes the list, hitting the tenth spot. Others are words that clearly belong as part of a pair, like “preceding” and “predecessor,” but their opposites are a little lesser-known. The only word to make both lists was, interestingly, “support,” which was the third most searched for antonym and the tenth most popular synonym.
Now that you’re an expert on 2018’s synonyms and antonyms, boost your word wisdom even more with these pairs of words everyone thinks are synonyms—but really aren’t.