Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Single Words That Can Have Opposed Meanings

A random site I wound up at yesterday (while trying to research the origins of some phrases) said that "cleave" is the only word in the English language that is synonymous with two words that are antonym of each other: "adhere" and "separate". The "adhere" meaning doesn't get as much use any more -- the main instance of it that came to my mind is the archaic wedding-vow usage: "Cleave unto one another". But it's there.

I was wondering if there really aren't any other words that mean both one thing and the opposite of that thing, though. "Literally" comes to mind, because there's a colloquial use where "literally" is used emphasis and actually means "figuratively": "I made one little comment and she literally bit my head off!" Although dictionaries don't seem to be acknowledging this use of 'literally' yet. Which is okay with me; I don't want to encourage it anyway. >:)

Inflammable comes to mind too, except that inflammable really doesn't mean "cannot be burned" even though it sounds like it should.

Anyway, can anyone else think of any instances?
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