What is the opposite of semantic HTML

Forms of contradiction of meanings between lexemes

Dr. Hartmut Lenk, German Institute of the University of Helsinki, introductory lecture lexicology


(i) incompatibility

(or antonymy in the broader sense)

If a certain expression (e.g. a hyponym) is used, another expression cannot be used at the same time: the non-existence of what is indicated by the incompatible expression is asserted. The converse is not true: the negation of an expression does not necessarily imply / mean the opposite.

The hyponyms Car, bus, train, airplane, motorcycle, moped, bike, ship, helicopter etc. of the hyperonym vehicle exclude each other in the concrete context of the situation and sentence:
The sentence Anna drives to Lübeck by car rules out (assuming its truth) that she uses another means of transport. The negation Anna doesn't go to Lübeck by car but does not imply that Anna is using the plane. A clear conclusion about one of the incompatible lexemes is not possible.

(ii) antonymy


as an incompatibility relation for scalable elements (Lutzeier 1995, 81).

The definition Schippan 1991, 215 reads:
"The negation of one expression does not necessarily imply the assertion of the other, but there are transitions between two antonymic poles. Those who do not speak aloud do not necessarily have to speak softly, but can speak normally; what is not expensive does not have to be cheap."

Further examples:

  • hotvs. cold
  • warm vs. cool 
  • height vs. depth 
  • defect vs. abundance etc.

In verbs, the characteristic of directionality often constitutes a contradiction in meaning; one speaks of 'directional oppositions' like

  • climb vs. fall (e.g. the temperatures)
  • [a proposal] accept vs. reject
  • disarm vs. gear up 

The antonymy can, for example, also be based on a valuation level:

  • love vs. to hate
  • worship vs. despise etc.

(iii) Complementarity (s-relation) or contradiction

(Schwarz / Chur 1993, 58)

Schippan 1991, 215: “The polar lexemes are mutually exclusive. Intermediate stages are not possible. ... The assertion of one implies the negation of the other. "

Chur / Schwarz 1993, 58: "The meanings of these words are strictly mutually exclusive."

See also the logistic definition in Lutzeier 1995, 82, which states in a general sense: The existence of an expression necessarily means the non-existence of the opposite and vice versa.

Examplesthat meet this definition in a strict sense are rather rare; often a third category or an intermediate level can be found, cf.

  • dead vs. lively (in medicine there are different phases of death!)
  • married vs. single (what about divorced and widowed? Or the so-called "wild marriage" or the "life cycle community"?)
  • male vs. Female (there are hermaphrodites, as well as transvestism and gender reassignment)
  • stallion vs. mare,Rooster vs. hen, Zip vs. Buck etc. (there are also hermaphrodites in the animal kingdom)
  • Singular vs. Plural (but the Gothic knows the dual as the 3rd number category)
  • habitablevs.uninhabitable (Necessity is the mother of invention!)
  • sober vs. drunk / drunk (often a question of the limit value ...)
  • iodine free vs. containing iodine (How exactly do you measure?)
  • healthy vs. ill (Medical sarcasm: "Anyone who thinks they are healthy has just not been examined thoroughly enough!")
  • Roman vs. Arabic(as written symbols for numbers; in Chinese there are other numerical graphemes)

(iv) Conversivity (conversation relation)

definition in Schippan 1991, 216: "Two verbs express the same action under opposite ways of seeing."


  • give vs. to take 
  • to buy vs. to sell 
  • rent vs. to rent 

To this semantic relationship, John Lyons also includes reciprocal social roles, which are denoted by nouns:

  • doctor vs. patient 
  • Teacher vs. student 
  • winner vs. loser 
  • Mr vs. Servant / servant
  • testator vs. heritage
  • Tenant vs. landlord
  • Buyers vs. Seller etc.


(v) reversibility (relation)

Lutzeier 1995, 84: “In order to be able to speak of reversibility, the following must apply in addition to incompatibility: When comparing the two events mentioned, the initial state of the first event must be the end state of the second event and the end state of the first event must be the initial state of the second event . "

  • Examples:
  • loaded vs. unload 
  • build in vs. Remove 
  • tie up vs. tie off(untie)
  • unwind vs. wind up 
  • turn off vs. turn on 
  • turn up vs. turn off 
  • whistle vs. whistle 
  • sign off vs. check out
  • turn on vs. turn off
  • construction vs. Dismantling (e.g. a circus tent)
  • Departure vs. Arrivals (e.g. a ferry)
  • begin vs. landing (e.g. an airplane)