Appendix:English contranyms

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A contranym or contronym is a word that has opposing meanings. New items are collected in Category:Contranyms by language.

Homophonic contranyms[edit]

These phonetic examples are contranyms under different spellings:

Homographic contranyms[edit]

These examples are contranyms for different pronunciations:

  • resign: (two pronunciations) cease working for / continue working for


These examples have both the same spelling and pronunciation:

Adjectives, adverbs and prepositions[edit]

  • bound: moving (e.g. homeward bound) / unable to move (e.g. housebound)
  • dry: having no water, such as alcohol / having no alcohol
  • fast: moving quickly / unable to move
  • fine: not above average / above average
  • fulsome: offensively flattering or insincere / abundant
  • impregnable: not enterable / enterable (latter proscribed)
  • literally: in a literal way / in a figurative way
  • off: off / on (e.g. the alarm went off)
  • terrible: formidable / lousy
  • discursive: rambling / proceeding coherently
  • bad: terrible / actually good and cool
  • seeded: with seeds / without seeds
  • nerveless : lacking courage / courageous

Nouns and pronouns[edit]

  • aught: anything / nothing
  • bill: a medium of money (a $10 bill)/ a medium of money owed (a bill for $10)
  • bomb: success / failure
  • citation: commendation / condemnation
  • commencement: the beginning / the end
  • hack: clever solution / kludge
  • handicap: advantage (e.g. in golf) / disadvantage
  • hoi polloi: the ordinary people / the fancy or rich people, the elite
  • oversight: watching over / not noticing
  • quantum leap: smallest measureable increment / radical change
  • strike: a success (e.g bowling) / a failure


  • cleave: to cut in two / to adhere (e.g. cleave to one's wife)
  • clip: attach / cut off
  • consult: to give advice / to receive advice
  • dust: to remove dust from / to spray or cover something with fine powder
  • fix: make something work correctly / stop an animal from working correctly
  • hold up: aid / hinder
  • injoint: separate / join
  • lease: to pay for the use of / to offer something for payment
  • left: to have departed from / to have remained
  • let: to allow / to obstruct
  • put out: cause to exist / cause to cease to exist
  • rent: to pay for the use of / to offer something for payment
  • sanction: approve / forbid
  • scan: read carefully / skim
  • screen: hide / show (e.g. a movie)
  • seed: to remove seeds / to add seeds
  • skin: to remove skin; to add skin
  • strike: hit / miss (e.g. in baseball)
  • table: bring forward for discussion / withdraw from discussion
  • wind up: to start / to finish

See also[edit]

External links[edit]