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?
Subscribe

  • Barred Entry

    I don't really want to write about politics, but after weighing in on the mindless Nazi-punching meme I feel like I owe it to the world to comment on…

  • The Difference

    I'm at Panera, and I don't really feel like writing anything in particular. But I do really feel like playing 4thewords, so Imma just ramble for a…

  • Othering

    Anke wrote a Tumblr post on sexism in sf&f. I have complicated thinky thoughts related to this, and decided I should unpack them in my own post.…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 11 comments

  • Barred Entry

    I don't really want to write about politics, but after weighing in on the mindless Nazi-punching meme I feel like I owe it to the world to comment on…

  • The Difference

    I'm at Panera, and I don't really feel like writing anything in particular. But I do really feel like playing 4thewords, so Imma just ramble for a…

  • Othering

    Anke wrote a Tumblr post on sexism in sf&f. I have complicated thinky thoughts related to this, and decided I should unpack them in my own post.…