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I am looking for a list of all English words that are their own antonyms. Off the top of my head, I can only think of "either", "fast", "to dust" and "to lease", but there must be dozens more. Can you provide a link to a comprehensive list, if such exists?

Also, what are such words most commonly called? I like the term "Janus word" I once heard, but is that widely understood?

Edited by popular demand to make it absolutely clear that this is not a community wiki poll.

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@RegDwight: BTW, the Wikipedia list can also lose entries over time, or get deleted. :-) There are some people who go around on Wikipedia trying to get such lists deleted as "unencyclopedic" (mostly unsuccessfully so far). –  ShreevatsaR Aug 27 '10 at 5:14
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Is Contradictanym synonym to Auto-antonym? Can the term self-antonym be used? –  Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин Feb 7 '11 at 13:33
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I'm not sure if "ciao" and "aloha" have been noted yet, so I just wanted to make sure that they were. Each can be used both in greeting and farewell. –  Hexagon Tiling Feb 29 '12 at 21:14
    
"cleave" is the first one that comes to mind, coming up in the text of certain wedding ceremonies. –  cmcf Nov 25 at 23:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 24 down vote accepted

I think you're referring to Auto-antonyms. They are not the same word but a homograph (a word of the same spelling) that is also an antonym. I guess, Janus word is also acceptable.

There was a list on Wikipedia (List of Auto-antonyms in English), since moved to Wiktionary's Appendix of English contranyms.

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Yet another piece of weirdness on Wikipedia, apparently "bolt" means "fixed", etc. –  delete Aug 26 '10 at 13:15
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"Bolt" as a verb can mean "to run away" or "to fix in place (using a bolt)". –  AlexC Oct 31 '10 at 0:41
    
+1 for this extensive list –  Alain Pannetier Φ Mar 17 '11 at 23:37
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And I just came across this nice cartoon featuring candid dinosaurs. –  Alain Pannetier Φ Apr 3 '11 at 9:30
    
@Alexc I recall a photo (in Mad Magazine?) many decades ago, of a guy being told "Don't bolt your food!" - He was, of course, doing it with a wrench. –  mickeyf Sep 13 '11 at 14:22

There are several names for these. "Contradictanym" is one you see in a few places. There's another list of several examples here: http://toothycat.net/wiki/wiki.pl?Contradictanym

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What is the opposite of a Contradictanym? A word that doesn't contradict itself? –  Jared Updike Oct 28 '10 at 22:28

Another word for it is ‘contranym’. Two types can be distinguished. There are those known as doublets, which have a common etymology, such as ‘fast’. Then there are those which are quite separate words that happen to be spelt the same way, such as ‘cleave’.

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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 25 '12 at 11:00

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