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lynnmosher

What the heck are contronyms?

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Contronyms—words that are their own antonyms. This is an interesting list of 25 words. Here are the first few:

 

1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean "give official permission or approval for (an action)" or conversely, "impose a penalty on."

 

2. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” Oversee, from Old English ofersēon ("look at from above") means "supervise" (medieval Latin for the same thing: super-, "over" plus videre, "to see.") Overlook usually means the opposite: "to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore."

 

3. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)

 

4. Dust, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.

 

5. Seed can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.

 

 

 

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I'm meeting with my writers group tomorrow and I'll share this with them!  Thanks Lynn! 

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Some words become contranyms over time. "let" now means to allow, but it used to mean to hinder, as in the old phrase, "without let or hindrance".

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    How about my name "Bill"?

    A Bill is "Something to be paid".  With me that actually does happen.  Not as often or as much as I'd like; but who doesn't feel that way; whatever his or her name is? 

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23 hours ago, William D'Andrea said:

    How about my name "Bill"?

    

It's not a contranym, but " cleave" is both "to join together" and "to cut apart."

 

But if a bird you own needs veterinary care, you may get a Bill bill bill.

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