Contranyms are cool!

From my almanac, while waiting for a meeting to start, I discovered contranyms, which are words that have opposite meanings depending on their context. Some examples:

cleave: “to split apart” or “to stick together”.

clip: “to cut” or “to fasten”.

sanction: “approval” or “punishment”.

screen: “to shield” or “to present”.

trim: “to cut away” or “to ornament”.

I’m sure there are others. What more could you ask for from a language than a single word that can take on two opposite meanings. Boy, am I glad I don’t have to learn English from scratch!

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.