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Contronyms: Words that are their own opposites

A part of the series on English grammar and vocabulary...

Contronyms: Words that are their own opposites

Can A Word Be Its Own Opposite?

Yes! There are actually dozens of examples. They are called Contronymswords that are their own antonyms, depending on usage.

Here are a few for starters:

Dust :

can mean

‘to add fine particles’ or ‘to remove fine particles’.

Left :

can mean both

‘remaining’ and ‘departed’.

Off :

can mean both ‘activated’ (as in set off) and ‘deactivated’.

Oversight :

means both

‘watchful care’ and ‘an inadvertent error’.

Screen :

can mean both

‘to show’ and ‘to hide’.