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I'm aware of the existence of auto-antonyms/contranyms, but I'm looking for something that seems to be the opposite: a situation in which either word in a set of antonyms results in the same meaning. To be clear, a contranym requires antonymous homographs; I am searching for two distinct words that are antonyms but convey the same meaning in context. For example, the following sentences mean the same thing:

  • How is your homework coming?
  • How is your homework going?

The only other example I can think of at the moment is "slow up/down", although there are probably others. (I keep telling myself to write them down as I come across them, but that's a separate issue.)

Additionally, I recognize that there may be a subtle difference in connotation that I'm missing. In the situations I've presented, do the two words mean exactly the same thing, or is it inappropriate to use on in certain cases? To me it has always just been the one that comes more naturally in speech, but I believe I use the coming/going example both ways equally as often.

Edit: I should state that I'm wondering if a term for such a situation exists; I am not searching for more examples, although those are welcome!

  • hot/cool as slang terms from something good? – Dan Sep 29 '15 at 15:18
  • You don't use "what's coming on here?" in place of "what's going on here?". I don't think coming and going are interchangeable except your example. That's why you cannot find so many examples. – user140086 Sep 29 '15 at 15:28
  • How is your homework coming sounds rather odd to me; I think 'How is your homework coming along.' sounds a lot better. – Ronald Sep 29 '15 at 16:09
  • @Rathony: I never suggested "coming" and "going" always mean the same thing. If that were the case, they would cease being antonyms. My question pertains to situations in which the context allows this. – dpwilson Sep 29 '15 at 16:27
  • @dpwilson What I wanted to mean was "How is your homework coming" doesn't sound the same with "going". Ronald already commented. – user140086 Sep 29 '15 at 16:32
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Although not exactly what you're looking for, I've come across a slightly broader class, hyponyms. A hyponym-hypernym pair is an is-a relationship between two words. One of the examples in the link is that blue and red are co-hyponyms of colour (their hypernym).

In your example, coming and going are both hyponyms of moving; other movement-related words also fit your sentence template - e.g. "How is your homework travelling?" The hyponyms you selected happen to be antonyms, which is an interesting result of the conflict between their respective connotations of movement vs direction.

This also seems to hold true for the hot/cool and in/out examples others have provided in the comments to your question.

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"Opposonym" (Wikipedia). That's all I was able to find. There doesn't seem to be a formally defined term for it.

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