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What is the opposite of “colloquial”?

What is the antonym of “colloquial”?

The antonyms of colloquial are formal, literary, and bookish. These antonyms describe different styles of language use, with colloquial being informal and conversational.

Brief Definitions of the Antonym(s)

Learn when and how to use these words with these examples!


Following established conventions and rules; suitable for official or serious occasions.


The CEO's speech was formal and dignified, reflecting the company's values.


Relating to literature or writing that is valued for its artistic qualities and intellectual content.


The novel's style was literary and poetic, with vivid descriptions and complex characters.


Characterized by an excessive interest in reading and studying; academic or scholarly.


He was known for his bookish habits, spending most of his free time in the library.

How are these antonyms different from each other?

  • 1Formal language is used in official or serious contexts, such as business meetings, ceremonies, or legal documents.
  • 2Literary language is used in creative writing, such as novels, poetry, or essays, and emphasizes artistic expression and intellectual content.
  • 3Bookish language is used to describe someone who has a strong interest in reading and studying, and may have a more academic or scholarly tone.

Good things to know

  • 1Professional Communication: Use formal language in business or academic settings to convey professionalism and respect.
  • 2Creative Writing: Use literary language to create vivid descriptions and complex characters in novels, poetry, or essays.
  • 3Casual Conversation: Use colloquial language in informal settings, such as with friends or family, to sound more natural and relaxed.
  • 4Academic Writing: Use bookish language in scholarly writing, such as research papers or dissertations, to demonstrate knowledge and expertise.

Remember this!

The antonyms of colloquial are formal, literary, and bookish. Each antonym describes a different style of language use, with colloquial being informal and conversational. Use formal language in professional or serious contexts, literary language in creative writing, colloquial language in casual conversation, and bookish language in academic writing.

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