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I propose that the name of this entry be changed to "contronym" in order to reflect the earliest spelling (and use) of the word.

The original spelling of "contranym" was contronym, which is a more historically correct spelling. The word derives from the Latin contr(a), "against, contrary, in opposition" + -onym; the suffix always supersedes the root, so the "a" in contra is dropped to form contronym.

The word contronym was coined in 1962 by Jack Herring for a language game. Contronyms were the subject of an article by Richard Lederer in Word Ways in February 1978. David Morice coined the word pseudo-contronym in 1987 for a similar language game.

  • contronym — a word which can be used in two contradictory senses: a language game. Compare antagonym, autantonym, heteronym, and homonym. See also pseudo-contronym. [Herring; Lederer/1]
  • pseudo-contronym — a word which, when modified, can be used in two contradictory senses (e.g., unit = one thing; but un-it = not a thing): a language game — coined by David Morice. See also contronym. [Morice]


  • Herring, Jack. Word Study (February 1962).
  • Lederer/1 = Lederer, Richard. "Curious Contronyms." Word Ways, 11 (February 1978): 27-28.
  • Morice, David. "Kickshaws." Word Ways, 20 (November 1987): 243. 03:50, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Auto-Antonym vs. Autantonym[edit]

The original spelling of "auto-antonym" (with or without the hypen) was autantonym. It was coined (or perhaps simply reported) by Joseph T. Shipley in 1960.

The original spelling, in which the "o" in auto- was properly dropped, was used in the Dictionary of Language Games, Puzzles, and Amusements in 1986.

  • autantonym — word having two opposite meanings (as a fast horse, and a fast color). Cf. contronym, heteronym, and homonym. [Eiss:39; Shipley:74]


  • Eiss, Harry Edwin. Dictionary of Language Games, Puzzles, and Amusements. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.
  • Shipley, Joseph T. Playing with Words. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1960, p. 74. 03:58, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Those all seem like valid ===Alternate spellings=== as per WT:CFI/WT:ELE. --Connel MacKenzie 09:17, 19 January 2007 (UTC)