Etymologie, Etimología, Étymologie, Etimologia, Etymology, (griech.) etymología, (lat.) etymologia, (esper.) etimologio
US Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika, Estados Unidos de América, États-Unis d'Amérique, Stati Uniti d'America, United States of America, (esper.) Unuigintaj Statoj de Ameriko
Contronym, Contrónimo, Contronyme, Contronimo, Contronym, (esper.) kontronimoj




75 Contronyms


75 Contronyms (Words with Contradictory Meanings)

By Mark Nichol

The English language includes an interesting category of words and phrases called "contronyms" (also spelled "contranyms", or referred to as "autoantonyms") — terms that, depending on context, can have opposite or contradictory meanings. When you use these words, be sure the context clearly identifies which meaning is intended:

Erstellt: 2015-02 - Contr
11 Contronyms You’ve Been Using Without Realizing It


Are these words two-faced?

There are four people at a dinner party. By midnight, two people had left. How many people are left at the party?

"Left" is just one of many words or expressions known as a "contronym" — or "contranym" — a word that has two meanings that are opposite or nearly opposite. In this example, "left" means both "leave" (two people had left) and "remain" (How many people are left?), which are "antonyms". An "antonym" is a word that is opposite in meaning to another.

"Contronyms" are also known as "Janus words". "Janus" was an ancient Roman god with two faces that looked in opposite directions, so you can see how he came to be associated with "contronyms". (You might be surprised to know that "Janus" is also connected to the month of "January".)

Another term for these words is "auto-antonym", or a word that means the opposite of itself. Technical terms for this phenomenon are "enantiosemy", "enantionymy", or "antilogy".

You’re likely familiar with many of these contronyms, even if you don’t realize it. So check out some of the most common ones, before you check out.

Erstellt: 2022-02




If you have read our antonyms page, you will know that two words with opposite meanings are called "antonyms". So "autoantonyms" are words that are the opposite of themselves!

"Auto-antonym" has Greek roots meaning a word that is the opposite of itself. They have variously been called "contranyms", "contronyms", "antilogies", "Janus words" (after the two-faced Greek mythical figure, from which "January" also derives), and "enantiodromes".

Below is a list af many such words, and their associated opposite (or near-opposite) meanings. See the bottom of the page for an explanation of how such contradictory meanings can come about.
The Origin of Autoantonyms

Bob Fradkin explains how one of the major classes of auto-antonym comes about:

"Dust" is part of a series of noun-verb conversions related to coverings of things. If the noun gives a covering that is natural to the thing, then the verb means "remove the covering". If the covering is imposed, the verb means put the covering on.

So you get "shell an egg", "peel a banana", but "paint the furniture", "wax the floor".

"Dust" is interesting because it can go either way: "dust the furniture" (a sort of natural covering to be removed) vs. "dust the crops" (put stuff on them that they didn't have and wouldn't unless humans put it there). I mentioned this in my English grammar book Stalking the Wild Verb Phrase.

Erstellt: 2015-02

10 Verbs that are contronyms


Erstellt: 2015-02






14 Words That Are Their Own Opposites


Judith B Herman

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, 'Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression' or does it mean, 'Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default'?

We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of "contronyms"—words that are their own antonyms.

Erstellt: 2015-02








A "synonym" is a word that means the same as another. "Necessary" and "required" are synonyms. An "antonym" is a word that means the opposite of another. "Wet" and "dry" are antonyms. While synonyms and antonyms are not in themselves interesting, the complexities and irregularities of the English language sometimes make synonyms and antonyms interesting to explore. Many complexities result from words having multiple definitions. A trivial example is a word with synonyms that aren't synonyms of each other, the word "beam", for example, having the synonyms "bar" and "shine". Similarly, some words have antonyms that are neither synonyms nor antonyms of each other but completely unrelated: the word "right", for example, having the antonyms "wrong" and "left".

A more interesting paradox occurs with the word "groom", which does not really have an antonym in the strictest sense but has an opposite of sorts in the word "bride", which can be used as a prefix to create a synonym, "bridegroom."

The word "contronym" (also "antagonym") is used to refer to words that, by some freak of language evolution, are their own antonyms. Both "contronym" and "antagonym" are neologisms; however, there is no alternative term that is more established in the English language.

Contronyms are special cases of homographs (two words with the same spelling).

Erstellt: 2015-02


Start (W3)

Ein ganz alltägliches Beispiel zur Umkehr der Bedeutung eines Begriffs ist "Start". Ein Grossteil der Besucher des Etymologie-Portals benutzt vermutlich das Betriebssystem WINDOWS7. Um den PC zu stoppen bzw. herunterzufahren klickt man auf "Start" in der linken unteren Ecke.

Erstellt: 2015-02



Uni Michigan - Anta
Antagonyms: words with contradictory meanings



Page revised on January 1, 1999

This is a word I made up to describe a single word that has meanings that contradict each other. My derivation of the word antagonyms is described below.

Example of an Antagonym:

A current example would be "BAD". There is the normal meaning and the slang meaning of "good" (sometimes pronounced baad for emphasis). Although I prefer words in which the antithetical definitions are listed in common dictionaries, I will accept well-known slang examples.

As pointed out by Rex Stocklin (in list of acknowledgments below, see {T}), a number of antagonyms result from use of the prefix "re-". The meaning "again" may conflict with other meanings. We will continue to add these words to the list as we receive them.

The (numbers) below indicate my reference sources; the {letters} acknowledge contributors. Both are listed after the following sections.

Antagonyms Antagonistic phrases, usually informal
Was it an oversight?

No, we never knew that "antagonyms" have previously been called "contronyms" until Mark Israel emailed us. Apparently the term "contronyms" was coined by Richard Lederer in Crazy English (Pocket Books, 1989, ISBN 0-671-68907-X). Mark has listed several dozen contronyms in the alt.usage.english FAQ (or link to it). We're proud to say we have some he didn't have!

Erstellt: 2022-10

One Word, Two Opposite Meanings
Terms That Janus Would Have Loved


February 02, 2015

One Word, Two Opposite Meanings: Terms That Janus Would Have Loved

I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on WORDMASTER: "two-faced words", also known as "Janus words" — after the Roman god with two faces looking in opposite directions — or contronyms.

RS: We are talking about a word that has developed two opposite meanings, explains linguist and author Richard Lederer.

RICHARD LEDERER: "We know that words over time, almost all words, especially nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, develop different meanings. And we have some words that have more than a hundred meanings. But "contronyms" develop opposite meanings. Take the word "out": just a three-letter word; sometimes an adverb, sometimes a preposition or a particle. When the sun is out, you can see it; when the lights are out, then you can't see them. So it is both visible and invisible."

Erstellt: 2015-01