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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.

closed as too broad by curiousdannii, jimm101, Mari-Lou A, Jim, John Clifford Mar 14 '16 at 13:30

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • @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
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    "cleave" is the first one that comes to mind, coming up in the text of certain wedding ceremonies. – cmcf Nov 25 '14 at 23:10
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because 1. It asks for a list. 2. It should be split into multiple questions- (of course the list part would still be off topic, but the "what is the name for this type of word" part is perfectly valid.) – Jim Mar 14 '16 at 0:58
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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.

  • 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
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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
  • Also in the list of auto-antonyms, they forgot to include the dash, which can mean "add" (e.g., the shopping list note, "buy candy - chocolate bars, and suckers") or "subtract" (e.g., "5 - 3 = 2"). – Hexagon Tiling Mar 13 '12 at 3:50
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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
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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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