The idea for writing this post came from a single line in the appendix to a presentation: “what’s the opposite of Canada?”. While this could be the set up for some pretty poor jokes, it’s actually the entrance to a rabbit warren of fascinating geeky distractions.
It turns out that while we can typically group similar or related words together - identifying that there is some connection between “Canada” and “snow” for example - we generally have a much weaker intuition for opposites. There are obviously a relatively small set of words where we’d likely have consensus on opposites - mainly adjectives like “dark”, “tall”, “cold” etc. - but in general, “oppositeness” is a less well-defined concept than “similarity”.