Contrary contronyms!

 In Grammar, Punctuation Contractions Acronyms

Let’s take another step along the way to mastery of the English language.  There is this interesting category of words called contronyms.  These are terms that, depending on context, can have opposite or contradictory meanings.  Getting to recognize and use these in your daily conversation makes the language fun and challenging.

When you use a contronym, be sure the context clearly identifies which meaning is intended. For example, ‘left’  is a contronym. It 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If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left?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.)

contronyms face post jpeg



A few more contronyms

AUGHT: All, or nothing

BOUND: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement

BUCKLE: to connect, or to break or collapse

CLIP: to fasten, or detach

CUSTOM: common practice, or a special treatment

DUST: To add fine particles, or to remove them

FAST: Quick, or stuck or made stable

GARNISH: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages

HOLD UP: To support, or to impede

MODEL: An exemplar, or a copy

OVERSIGHT: Monitoring, or failing to oversee

PUZZLE: A problem, or to solve one

QUITE: Rather (as a qualifying modifier), or completely

REFRAIN: To desist from doing something, or to repeat

SANCTION: To approve, or to boycott

OVERLOOK: To supervise, or to neglect

SCREEN: To present, or to conceal

SKIN: To cover, or to remove

TEMPER: To soften, or to strengthen

TRIM: To decorate, or to remove excess from

TRIP: A journey, or a stumble

WEAR: To endure, or to deteriorate

Cool, huh? And all contronyms, at that.

There are many of these crazy words – brainstorm, google . Come up with some!

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