WORDS THAT ARE THEIR OWN OPPOSITES
You're about to stumble into the looking-glass world of contronyms.
- •SanctionCan mean ‘give official permission or approval for (an action)’ or conversely, ‘impose a penalty on.’
- •LeftCan mean either remaining or departed. (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)
- •SeedIf you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.
- •OffMeans ‘deactivated,’ as in "to turn off," but also ‘activated,’ as in "The alarm went off."
- •WeatherCan mean ‘to withstand or come safely through,’ as in “The company weathered the recession,” or it can mean ‘to be worn away’: “The rock was weathered.”
- •ClipCan mean 'to bind together' or 'to separate.' You clip sheets of paper to together or separate part of a page by clipping something out.
- •GoMeans 'to proceed,' but also 'give out or fail.'
- •BitchCan derisively refer to a woman who is considered overly aggressive, or it can refer to someone passive or submissive.
- •Out (of)Means 'outside' or 'inside': “I hardly get out of the house because I work out of my home.”
- •ScreenCan mean ‘to show’ (a movie) or ‘to hide’ (an unsightly view).
- •FineCan mean excellent (a fine wine) or barely acceptable (“OK. That’s fine. Whatever”).
- •ReservationsEither a firm commitment or a hesitation about something. “Will you be dining with us tonight?” “Yes, we have reservations.” Or is it, “No, we have reservations”?
- •Wind upWhen you wind something up are you preparing it to start or stop? That depends on whether it’s an old fashioned clock or a long-winded speech.
- •OversightOversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, 'oversee' and 'overlook.' 'Oversee' means ‘supervise.’ 'Overlook' usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’
- •CleaveCan mean 'to cling to or adhere,' or 'to split or sever (something).'
- •ResignThis one only works in writing. 'Resign,' meaning 'to quit,' is spelled the same as 'resign,' meaning 'to sign up again.'