25 Contronyms That Are Their Own Opposites

Usually when you think of opposites you think of two separate words. Hot and cold, fast and slow, black and white, up and down. But what about when the same word is its own opposite? Is your mind blown? Well it should be. But the craziest thing is that these unique words are not even that unique. There are a bunch of them. At least enough for us to write an entire list. Contronyms, as they are called, are quite interesting aspects of any language. The most bizarre thing, however, is that they are words you already know. You probably just never thought about them in the way that we are about to think of them. From this point on though you’ll probably go around trying to find contronyms in every sentence. Well, that might be an exaggeration but it’s definitely fun to look at language and words differently than you have before. It gives you a new appreciation for the simple things in life. So next the alarm goes off while the lights are off you can think to yourself, “It’s a contronym!”. With all of that said, get ready because these are 25 contronyms that are their own opposites.

Featured Image: Kirsty Hall via Flickr

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25

Fast

FastSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

Fast can signify “moving rapidly” as in “swimming fast”, but it can also mean “fixed or unmoving” as in “holding fast”.

24

Stone

StoneSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

This verb has two meanings. If you stone a fruit, you remove the stone from it. If you stone a person you throw stones at them.

23

Sanction

SanctionSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

To sanction something can either mean to condone it or to impose a penalty on it.

22

Seed

SeedSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

Like “stone”, “seed” can either imply adding or removing seeds. If you seed a lawn you are adding seeds to the lawn but if you seed a tomato you are removing seeds.

21

Off

OffSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

Off can refer to something that is “deactivated” as in “the light is turned off”, but it can also refer to something that is activated as in “the alarm went off”.

20

Screen

ScreenSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

This can mean to show a movie, or to hide something from view.

19

Cleave

CleaveSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

This can mean “to cling to” but it can also mean “to separate”.

18

Oversight

OversightSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

Oversight can mean “supervision” (to look at from above) or to overlook something (pass over without noticing)

17

Resign

ResignSource: wiktionary, Image: Kate Haskell via Flickr

These two words are actually pronounced differently. One means to quit and the other means to sign up again (re-sign).

16

Weathered

WeatheredSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

If somebody weathered something, they withstood it. If something is weathered, however, it has been worn away.

15

Help

HelpSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

Help means to assist, but if you can’t help something it means you can’t prevent it.

14

Trim

TrimSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

To trim something basically means to make it ready. This can go two ways though. The first is to remove something (trim the branches of the tree) while the second is to add something (trim the tree with decorations)

13

Left

LeftSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay

Left can either mean departed or remaining (after the men left only the women were left)

12

Dust

DustSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To dust something can mean either to add or remove dust. If you dust furniture then you are removing dust, but if you dust crops then you are adding it.

11

Clip

ClipSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To clip something can either mean to bind it together or to separate it.

10

Toss out

Toss outSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To toss something out can either mean to suggest it (toss out an idea) or to discard it (once again, to toss out an idea)

9

Out

OutSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

This can refer to either visible (the stars are out) or not visible (the lights are out).

8

Go

GoSource: wiktionary, Image: Mark Strozier via Flickr

To go usually means to proceed but if something goes it can also mean to give out (That piece of machinery is really starting to go)

7

Continue

ContinueSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

Like the word “go”, continue usually means to persist in doing something but in a legal context it can mean to stop a proceeding.

6

Flog

FlogSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To flog someone typically means to punish them by whipping. However, it can also mean to promote something (flog a new book).

5

Fix

FixSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To fix something can either mean to repair it (in the case of furniture) or to castrate it (in the case of an animal)

4

Hold up

Hold upSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To hold up can either mean to support or it can mean to impede.

3

Buckle

BuckleSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To buckle something can mean to clip it or fasten it, but if something buckles then it collapses.

2

Bolt

BoltSource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

To bolt something means to secure it, but if someone bolts then they are fleeing.

1

Apology

ApologySource: wiktionary, Image: wikipedia

An apology can either be a statement of contrition for an action, or it can be a defense of an action.



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