Saturday, December 20

Contronyms

[Contronyms]

Our language is so deliciously confounding.

Contronyms are special cases of homographs (two words with the same spelling). Some examples [list edited]:
  • anabasis - military advance, military retreat
  • bolt - secure, run away
  • buckle - fasten, fall apart
  • by - multiplication (e.g., a three by five matrix), division (e.g., dividing eight by four)
  • consult - ask for advice, give advice
  • discursive - proceeding coherently from topic to topic, moving aimlessly from topic to topic
  • enjoin - prescribe, prohibit
  • fast - quick, unmoving
  • garnish - enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)
  • mean - average, excellent (e.g., "plays a mean game")
  • oversight - error, care
  • quiddity - essence, trifling point
  • rent - buy use of, sell use of
  • screen - show, hide
  • transparent - invisible, obvious
  • unbending - rigid, relaxing
  • wear - endure through use, decay through use
  • weather - withstand, wear away
I wish I could spend all day exploring Fun With Words at RinkWorks, but I have to scour my digs for my mother's arrival. She's staying for an entire week. And, I'm woefully unprepared.