Home Forums Tip of the Day Fascinating: Have You Heard of a “Contronym”?

  • Fascinating: Have You Heard of a “Contronym”?

     Sury updated 2 months, 3 weeks ago 8 Members · 8 Posts
  • riva pomerantz

    April 28, 2021 at 7:13 am

    I came across this today and thought it was really fascinating for writers who are always expanding their word bank and their understanding of usage. This was compiled by a writer named Mark Nichol, from a website Daily Writing Tips.

    The English language includes an interesting category of words and phrases called contronyms (also spelled contranyms, or referred to as autoantonyms) — terms that, depending on context, can have opposite or contradictory meanings. When you use these words, be sure the context clearly identifies which meaning is intended:

    1. Apology: A statement of contrition for an action, or a defense of one
    2. Aught: All, or nothing
    3. Bill: A payment, or an invoice for payment
    4. Bolt: To secure, or to flee
    5. Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement
    6. Buckle: To connect, or to break or collapse
    7. Cleave: To adhere, or to separate
    8. Clip: To fasten, or detach
    9. Consult: To offer advice, or to obtain it
    10. Continue: To keep doing an action, or to suspend an action
    11. Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment
    12. Dike: A wall to prevent flooding, or a ditch
    13. Discursive: Moving in an orderly fashion among topics, or proceeding aimlessly in a discussion
    14. Dollop: A large amount (British English), or a small amount
    15. Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them
    16. Enjoin: To impose, or to prohibit
    17. Fast: Quick, or stuck or made stable
    18. Fine: Excellent, or acceptable or good enough
    19. Finished: Completed, or ended or destroyed
    20. First degree: Most severe in the case of a murder charge, or least severe in reference to a burn
    21. Fix: To repair, or to castrate
    22. Flog: To promote persistently, or to criticize or beat
    23. Garnish: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages
    24. Give out: To provide, or to stop because of a lack of supply
    25. Go: To proceed or succeed, or to weaken or fail
    26. Grade: A degree of slope, or a horizontal line or position
    27. Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement
    28. Help: To assist, or to prevent or (in negative constructions) restrain
    29. Hold up: To support, or to impede
    30. Lease: To offer property for rent, or to hold such property
    31. Left: Remained, or departed
    32. Let: Allowed, or hindered
    33. Liege: A feudal lord, or a vassal
    34. Literally: Actually, or virtually
    35. Mean: Average or stingy, or excellent
    36. Model: An exemplar, or a copy
    37. Off: Deactivated, or activated, as an alarm
    38. Out: Visible, as with stars showing in the sky, or invisible, in reference to lights
    39. Out of: Outside, or inside, as in working out of a specific office
    40. Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect
    41. Oversight: Monitoring, or failing to oversee
    42. Peer: A person of the nobility, or an equal
    43. Presently: Now, or soon
    44. Put out: Extinguish, or generate
    45. Puzzle: A problem, or to solve one
    46. Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part
    47. Quiddity: Essence, or a trifling point of contention
    48. Quite: Rather (as a qualifying modifier), or completely
    49. Ravel: To entangle, or to disentangle
    50. Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat
    51. Rent: To purchase use of something, or to sell use
    52. Rock: An immobile mass of stone or figuratively similar phenomenon, or a shaking or unsettling movement or action
    53. Sanction: To approve, or to boycott
    54. Sanguine: Confidently cheerful, or bloodthirsty
    55. Scan: To peruse, or to glance
    56. Screen: To present, or to conceal
    57. Seed: To sow seeds, or to shed or remove them
    58. Shop: To patronize a business in order to purchase something, or to sell something
    59. Skin: To cover, or to remove
    60. Skinned: Covered with skin, or with the skin removed
    61. Splice: To join, or to separate
    62. Stakeholder: One who has a stake in an enterprise, or a bystander who holds the stake for those placing a bet
    63. Strike: To hit, or to miss in an attempt to hit
    64. Table: To propose (in British English), or to set aside
    65. Temper: To soften, or to strengthen
    66. Throw out: To dispose of, or to present for consideration
    67. Transparent: Invisible, or obvious
    68. Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from
    69. Trip: A journey, or a stumble
    70. Unbending: Rigid, or relaxing
    71. Variety: A particular type, or many types
    72. Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate
    73. Weather: To withstand, or to wear away
    74. Wind up: To end, or to start up
    75. With: Alongside, or against

  • Passionate Pen

    April 28, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    @Riva this list is so amazing!! The complexity and beauty of the English language 😊

    Thanks for sharing!

  • PassionforWriting

    April 28, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    Wow, what an amazing list of words! Maye they’ll pop into my head when I need them? 🤣??

  • HappiWriter

    April 28, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Very interesting…

  • Rita G

    April 28, 2021 at 10:22 pm

    Good for solving crosswords!

  • Fayge Y.

    April 29, 2021 at 1:37 am

    The concept exists in lashon hakodesh too. Don’t ask me for examples at the moment though.

  • Sarah

    April 29, 2021 at 2:08 am

    I love this! Thanks for posting this @rivariva

  • Sury

    April 29, 2021 at 5:39 pm


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