By Published On: April 26, 2016

We all know how quirky, fickle, and just plain weird the English language can be. Here’s more proof. Ever hear of a contranym? It’s a word that can have two completely opposite meanings, depending on its context. They’re enough to drive an ESL student bonkers.

Here are some examples of contranyms and their double—opposite—meanings:

Bound—heading to someplace, or being restrained from something
Custom—a common practice, or a special treatment
Garnish—to add (as in food), or to take away (as in wages)
Sanction—to approve, or to boycott
Splice—to join, or to separate
Strike—to hit, or to miss (as in baseball)
Transparent—invisible, or obvious
Trim—to add (as in decorating), or to remove excess
Variety—one particular type, or having many types
Wear—to endure, or to deteriorate
Weather—to withstand, or to wear away

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
Google tips off debate by dropping ads from search results
Agency news: Ah, April.