I can't find one in the dictionary.

There is a word "disimprove" so "disimprove on" is a catachresis waiting to happen. I think it would be easily understood. But I'm looking for an existing word.

The question presupposes an understanding of the difference between "improve" and "improve on." Here are two examples I feel are correct:

  1. I want to improve my GPA.

  2. I want to improve on my last year's GPA.

In both examples I am comparing my current GPA to my previous GPA. But "improve" is used for the thing being compared (current GPA) and "improve on" for the thing being compared to (previous GPA).

If the difference is between the subject of a comparison and the object of one, it seems to me that "improve" has multiple antonyms but "improve on" doesn't have even one.

  • +1 Very tricky question. I can think of deteriorate or worsen but could not find what is the negative of 'I will have to improve on English grammar.'
    – Maulik V
    Sep 6, 2017 at 8:33
  • That's a great question! Therefore I was searching for a solution: it seems that the antonym always depends on the context.
    – Jochen
    Sep 6, 2017 at 18:38
  • degrade debase corrupt?
    – smatterer
    Sep 7, 2017 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


This is very tricky. We actually have "improve on" as "make better than before" which is actually in meaning equal to "make something better than the current thing taking the current thing as a starting point" in most cases.

Thus your usage of "I want to improve on my last year's GPA" means "To write a new GPA which is better than last year's (but take last year's GPA as an example)" and probably not "change the old last year's GPA to make it better (having the same GPA edited)"

And if look at this in such a way we see that you need to use a word or phrase that means "to make something new in a worse way from something old". Otherwise, if look at it as "to make beneficial additions or changes to something in order to make it better" then we need a word or phrase that means "to make detrimental additions or changes to something in order to make it worse".

Google shows up a few instances of "disimprove on" which I doubt is very common but is likely to be the only possible correct antonym to "improve on":

Purely in this context you could use the words "impair" or "worsen".

Out of context it's better to search for a certain word that is a synonym of "disimprove" but with definition that fits your particular needs.


Destroy or ruin might be somewhat antonyms. (Remember that antonyms are almost never direct opposites of the word unless they are exactly related.) For example:

"I want to destroy my GPA."

"I want to ruin my GPA."

  • So, what would be your antonym sentences for the following? 1. My son improves me. (I.e., my son makes me a better person.) 2. My son improves on me. (I.e., my son is a better version of the old man.)
    – M. Borns
    Nov 6, 2017 at 18:40
  • @M.Borns The antonym can be "My son diminishes me" and "My son becomes worse than I am" Jan 12, 2018 at 9:08

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