Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Contranym

A contranym (or contronym or even autoantonym if you prefer) is a word for which there are two opposite or contradictory meanings.

As examples–

 'Left' can mean remaining or departed. When the girls left the room, the boys were left behind.

'Trim' can either mean adding or removing something. I trim my hat with flowers, but trim the hedge with shears. 

'Refrain' is either to stop or repeat depending on the context. I might sing the refrain, or refrain from singing. (If you're nearby, you'll prefer the latter.)

Can you think of more examples?

21 comments:

  1. Didn't know that word. Thanks! And I have a hat just like that minus the flowers!

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    1. Does yours smell like a summer cornfield too, Lindsay?

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  2. Hi Patsy - interesting ... I had to cheat ... so I'll go with variety: a particular type, or many types ... but a great word to think about - and then the examples - cheers Hilary

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    1. It's not cheating, Hilary - it's research!

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  3. Cleave is one that has always bugged me. Does it mean cut apart or stick together? Make up your mind, word.

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  4. Can't think of any others at the moment. Then again, it's really early here...

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    1. I hope you're right, otherwise going right will mean going wrong.

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  6. After dusting the kitchen bench with flour, I had to dust the window sill to remove the flour.

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    1. And the rest of the kitchen, when I do it.

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  7. Thanks, Patsy. One I really don't know. I'll fit it into my next chapter.

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  8. Btw, really like the hat. Can I borrow it next time I go to a wedding, please?

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    1. I've worn it to a couple of weddings myself, Rosemary. It goes with just about anything, if I add the right colour flowers.

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  9. Isn't it fascinating that some words can mean the opposite? Yeah, English ins't confusing at all. lol

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    1. I really don't know why we stand for such madness, Donna.

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  10. If you'd ask me if that was possible, I would have denied it. Very cool.

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    1. I'm so pleased to have managed the apparently impossible!

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Thanks so much for commenting!