20 Words That Are Their Own Opposites
Grammar geeks, beware: The English language is filled with words that have reverse or contradictory meanings, depending on the context.
What is a contronym?
Also called antagonyms, autoantonyms, or Janus words, contronyms are words with two definitions that contradict—or are the reverse of—each other. Put another way, “a contronym is a word with a homonym (another word with the same spelling but different meaning) that is also an antonym (a word with the opposite meaning),” according to Grammarly. Read on to enter the mind-blowing world of words that are their own opposites. And speaking of, these words mean the exact opposite of what you think.
If you ‘seed the lawn,’ you are adding seeds to the grass. But ‘seeding a watermelon’ means that you are removing the seeds, instead. Want more word nerd trivia? These 15 common words used to mean completely different things.
When you trim the Christmas tree, are you adding its decorations or removing its branches? Technically, this term can be defined either way.
Being bound for something means you are moving towards it. But being bound by something means your actions are restrained or limited. Grammar geeks, beware: These 10 words don’t mean anything close to what they sound like, either.
Fast could mean either ‘secured in one place’ or ‘moving quickly.’ For example, you’d probably want your car to be fast, but the tires to hold fast.
Beware of the verb “to clip” as well. You can clip papers by fastening them together with a paperclip, or clip a hedge by removing its branches with shears.
If what you mean is ‘to hide’—as in, ‘a screen of fog’—then using the verb “screen” would be correct. But it’s also correct to use this term in the phrase ‘to screen a movie,’ which would mean ‘to show.’
Weather can mean ‘to withstand or endure,’ as in ‘weather a storm,” but also ‘worn down,’ as in ‘the rock is weathered.’ Check out the surprising meanings behind these 8 really weird words.