Wednesday, July 8, 2015


contranym (noun) = a word with two opposite meanings

According to Daily Writing Tips

The English language includes an interesting category of words and phrases called contranyms (also spelled contronyms, 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:

Aught: All, or nothing

Bill: Payment, or invoice for payment

Bolt: To secure, or to flee

Buckle: To connect, or to collapse

Clip: To fasten, or to detach

Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment

Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them

Enjoin: To impose, or to prohibit

Finished: Completed, or destroyed

Fix: To repair, or to castrate

Garnish: To furnish (food preparation), or to take away (wages)

Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement

Hold up: To support, or to impede

Left: Remained, or departed

Model: An exemplar, or a copy

Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect

Put out: Extinguish, or generate

Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part

Quiddity: Essence, or a trifling point of contention

Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat

Rock: An immobile mass of stone or figuratively similar phenomenon, or a shaking or unsettling movement or action

Sanction: To approve, or to boycott

Sanguine: Confidently cheerful, or bloodthirsty

Screen: To present, or to conceal

Strike: Hit, or miss in an attempt to hit

Throw out: To dispose of, or to present for consideration

Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from

Trip: A journey, or a stumble

Variety: Particular type, or many types

Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate

For more great contranyms, visit:

1 comment:

  1. What contrasts! I never thought about it, but we use these contrasts all the time.