Higher is to lower as upper is to ... lower?

I asked a question on Quora about why the human voice has a lower volume limit. Like, you can't speak at as low of a loudness as you can whisper.

Here's one answer:

A "lower volume limit" in comparison to WHAT? Can you be more specific, please?

I used "lower limit" to mean "the least you can go," but the answer understood it as a comparative adjective (as such in "A has a lower Stack Overflow reputation than B").

"Bottom limit" doesn't sound right. What're unambiguous alternatives to the word "lower" in this context?

  • 2
    Lower is the best antonym of both higher and upper that I can think of. It has multiple senses, I don't find it ambiguous in either context. The use of lower with volume limit is just fine. I suspect the problem was with the actual phrasing of your Quora question, not with lower itself. (Because I understand the request for clarification—and it's not because of the lack of a better antonym.) Jul 13, 2018 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


You describe your point perfectly with this:

... you can't speak at as low of a loudness as you can whisper.

But without seeing the full Quora question it's hard to know what the problem is with your description. Perhaps you could leverage minimum and maximum?

Why does the human voice have a minimum volume? For example, you can whisper more quietly than you can speak using your normal voice.

Another option could be softly:

Why can't one speak as softly as a whisper while still maintaining the sound of their voice?

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