1. James Belvoir
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    James Belvoir New Member

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    Antonym of want?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by James Belvoir, Jul 21, 2011.

    Is there an antonym for the word want. I could say I don't want chips but that inplies simply that there is a lack of want for chips rather than an anti-want, or a wanting against. I need one word as a direct opposite of want.
     
  2. pyrosama
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    pyrosama Member

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    Have.

    Antonym of "desire" could be dislike, hate.
     
  3. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    As you're after want as in desire and not lack or need, I think you will struggle to find the mot juste.

    Reject...undesirous...and similar work partially or contortedly but don't hit the spot.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I abhor chips. Absolutely despise them. Their greasy crunch repulses me. The very thought of them makes my guts heave and clench...
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    ... but I still want six packets, because my aunt Mabel is coming at the weekend and she loves the horrid things.

    You see, those things aren't actually antonyms of "want", they're antonyms of "like".
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Antonyms are context dependent. In most cases, an exact antonym, even in the same context, is not exactly what is needed.

    Often it is better to approach from a different direction.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the context you presented, an antonym for 'want' won't work... only a negative would... as in 'i do not want chips'...
     
  8. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    An antonym would certainly work. The problem is that there isn't one.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and there isn't one, because one won't work in that context... ;-)
     
  10. James Belvoir
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    James Belvoir New Member

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    I found it. It was so simple. 'Unwant'. Unwanted is a word so I took off the suffix. Now unwanted is a funny word in itself because to get from want to unwanted you have to add both a prefix and a suffix. I wonder how many words do that? Thanks for all of your help anyway.
     
  11. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    I do not believe there is an absolute, or true, antonym for want, the opposing sense exists in the language as to not want. The opposing senses of want/do not want are complementary senses, that is to say they are mutually exclusive.

    This can be shown in the language by other means as no single absolute word meaning to not want exists. This usually comes in the form of a negative, such as not. Think: "is not" "does not" "can not".

    Complementary senses which CAN take the form of true antonyms are things such as alive and dead, as they are either one or the other in absolute terms. Someone who is "nearly dead" is still actually alive, for instance.

    Additionally, the meaning of the word want can be extened by the use of gradable antonyms, for example, "I want that a lot" and "I want that little". Lot and Little are gradable antonyms on the relative scale of size.

    If you wanted, however, you could just make up a word that means "to not want". However, due to the system of negatives in the English Langauage, it take a largely superfluous function, but it is theoretically possible all the same.

    I tnaw that.

    t·naw
       [t-nor-]
    –verb (used with object)
    1.
    to feel no need or a desire for; to not wish for: to tnaw one's dinner; always tnawing something new.
    2.
    to reject, push away, show lack of interest in, (often followed by an infinitive): I tnaw you. She tnaws to be notified.

    It would be a rather awkward word though, as the English langauge is rather biased towards a presence of something, explaining why we have a system of negatives, and even down to the basics of verbs; even something that "is not" still is an is.

    Linguistics is such complex thing.


    P.S

    I have on purpose explained this entirely out of context.

    In a pragmatic situation where the object has been pre-clarified, "want" and "have" would become antonyms, as the person who "has" does not "want", and visa versa.
     
  12. elneilio10
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    elneilio10 Member

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    I think the lesson to be learnt from the thread is not to seek antonyms lightly. There aren't antonyms for every single word - probably for a good reason (that escapes me). If you feel you need to write with a dictionary and / or thesaurus by your side, your writing will suffer more than it will benefit.

    These books are great reference tools when reading (and then there's still a time and a place for them!), ideally expanding your vocabulary with every opening of them, thereby improving your writing skills when it's your turn to put pen to paper.

    Otherwise, you might just end up sounding pretentious or even confuse your reader by writing something semi-legit that you didn't actually mean.

    :)

    These reference books really should carry warnings? ;)
     
  13. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tread carefully JB. Unwanted is certainly a word but I suspect your 'unwant' has a very shaky legitimacy. (If nothing else it will surely draw undue attention.) It is a brave writer, I fancy, who uses it without putting inverted commas about it.

    An odd scenario, but there you go. There are probably lots of examples of a similar thing going on...Love, unloved but unlove? etc etc
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anyway, "Unwant" would mean the same as "not want". The word he wants would presumably be "antiwant". Which you might get away with in speculative fiction that uses changed language in the way 1984 and A Clockwork Orange do.
     
  15. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you make, Digtig, of this peculiar state of affairs where (broadly) unwanted, unloved etc are acceptable but unwant, unlove etc are not.

    A product of whimsical custom or something justifiable on technical grounds?
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mainly technical, I think. The prefix un- typically can't be added to verbs but it can be added to adjectives. The past and present participles of verbs take on something of the nature of adjectives so it becomes possible for them to take -un.

    As for which particular participles can take -un, ("unwanted" but not -- nowadays -- "unwanting"; "unyielding" but not "unyielded") that's just the way the language has developed. In Old English it was a standard grammatical construction and could be freely used with pretty much any past or present participle of a simple verb. In modern English it's no longer a standard construction, so the ones we can comfortably use are generally the ones that have survived from the time when it was.
     
  17. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for that. Cheers.
     

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