Holy Moly Susumu. I’m in Janus word heaven. What a goldmine those sites are (and not just for Janus words). Antagonyms, contronyms, and Burnside’s adjective “enantidromic” I like, but the only one that seems to have found its way into a dictionary (I guess they’ve all been coined fairly recently), as far as I could find, was “Janus word” (American Heritage). Self-contradictory, however, would be a bona fide adjective, but not quite as exciting-sounding as the others. My favorites Jani (plural?), though, are the ones that are really opposites – exactly the same part of speech ( e.g. if a verb both being transitive or intransitive). After all, the Janus faces point in directions that differ by 180 degrees and not 140 – but I still like them all even though I wouldn’t nominate many of them for the Janus Word Purity Award.
I like the word “polysemy,” (adjective “polysemous’) that Burnside pointed out, for the general category of words having several meanings, of which Janus words are a subset. Also hadn’t dawned on me that homonym and homophone were synonyms and that heteronym was synonymous with homograph – great sites!
It really is nice having a place to go where people are interested in and knowledgeable about these sorts of questions. I appreciate it. Thanks.
Ken G - March 11, 2002
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)