Contranym

Contranym

ˈkäntrəˌnim

Noun

  • A word with two opposite meanings, e.g. sanction (which can mean both “a penalty for disobeying a law” and “official permission or approval for an action”).

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Example Sentences

“He said I was going too fast, and I made a joke about the contranym, saying I had been holding fast at the stop sign.”

“He said I was going too fast, and I made a joke about the contranym, saying I had been holding fast at the stop sign.”

“Proofread this document and delete any contranyms to make sure there is no confusion in the meaning.”

Word Origin

Greek, 1960s

Why this word?

“Fast” can mean “speedy” or “held secure.” The word “clip” can mean “to attach something” or “to cut it off.” “To continue” means “to persist in doing something,” except in legal settings, where it means “to stop a proceeding temporarily.” A contranym is a word with two opposite meanings — the term was coined in the 1960s, based on the construction of “synonym” and “antonym,” but with “contra,” or Latin for “against.”

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