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Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Sat May 29, 2004 10:34 pm
by Archived Topic
A while back I heard the question, “Name a word which is its own antonym?” I know they gave “cleave” for an answer because I remember how shocked I was to realize that the transitive, crystal-cracking/lady-part kind and the intransitive, adhering kind were actually the same word – I had just never seen them together side by side before. “Ravel (not the composer)” surprised me also because I just didn’t know that unravel and ravel both meant to both tangle and disentangle (both transitively and intransitively). This idea of a word being its own antonym really fascinates me and I have been on the lookout for more ever since. Others I have come up with are (and some are a little shaky, but not bad): sanction, cite, dust, fast, oversight, terrific, seed, root, and drag. All these words are homographs having the same pronunciation (some homographs don’t, such as sewer [the pipe] and sewer [one who sews]). There are also the homophones which sound alike but may (bear – to carry and the beast) or may not (pear and pare) be spelled alike. A word such as bear is both a homograph and a homophone – can’t think of any others offhand. My questions are: 1) Is (are) there a word (words) for a word which is its own antonym and if there is (are) does (do) it (they) require that the word(s) be homographic with respect to one, the other, or both varieties, and/or homophones of one, the other, or both varieties? and 2) Can anyone think of any other homographic, self-antonymous (for lack of a better word for now) words to add to my list or any of the other variety(ies) to put on another (other) list(s)?
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Ken G - March 10, 2002
Submitted by Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Sat May 29, 2004 10:49 pm
by Archived Reply
"(words) for a word which is its own antonym" are
antagonyms <http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cellis/antagonym.html>,
contronyms <http://rinkworks.com/words/contronyms.shtml>,
Janus Words <http://www.users.bigpond.com/burnside/contradicting.htm>,
and self-contradicting words.

Reply from Susumu Enomoto (Shiraokamachi - Japan)

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Sat May 29, 2004 11:03 pm
by Archived Reply
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.
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Ken G - March 11, 2002
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Sat May 29, 2004 11:46 pm
by Archived Reply
did anyone say "raise" and "raze?" they are homophones and antonyms
Reply from ( - )

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Sun May 30, 2004 12:15 am
by Archived Reply
Hi,
It is nice to see that I am not alone in my quest for neat new words and fun things to do with them.

Try some of these:

Cleave, custom, sanction, fast, left, strike, trim, and dress.

Mikegros AT optonline.net
Reply from ( - )

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Sun May 30, 2004 12:44 am
by Archived Reply
temper: to harden steel, but to soften an opinion
Reply from ( - )

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:56 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Dale, If you are wondering, the reason why I erased your Janus word posting is because after reading it through, I considered it an indiscriminate dump. It was long, and most of the examples were of extremely low quality. In the future please use some judgment and don’t post large quantities of unedited material such as this. Just because it appeared on the internet and had the right title doesn’t mean it is worth posting on our site. If you do wish to post copied material such as this in the future, take the time to read it through and do some judicious editing.

Ken

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 12:56 am
by dalehileman
Ken, you asked for examples. The ones I sent constituted my own collection of several years. I am sorry that none of them met your criteria for quality

Janus words (antagonyms, contronyms)

Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 10:10 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Dale, I was not implying that NONE of them were any good, just that MOST of them weren’t any good. And I don’t think we should have to wade through a pile of your refuse just to discover the few that might have been worthwhile. Use some judgment in posting and don’t just indiscriminately dump on us your lifetime collection of whatever it is you have collected. And I hope that by erasing that mess, I will discourage you from doing that sort of thing again in the future.

Ken