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.

  • @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

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
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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. – MickeyfAgain_BeforeExitOfSO 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

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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