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I was thinking about the sentence:

"I took a class today".

As a tutor and a student myself, when I have used this sentence I have to clarify whether I mean "I taught a class today" or "I was a student in a class today". In that sense, the sentence could mean two completely different things, that is, that I was the student, or that I was the teacher, and thus could be interpreted either way if the sentence was presented without context.

Does this kind of sentence fall into any specific category, that is, is there a name for this kind of thing? I can't really think of other examples so this may be an outlier. I know, for example, that in common vernacular people use the word "sick" to mean both "cool, awesome, etc." and "physically ill". I guess this is more an example of a double meaning, but it was the closest thing I could think of to the question I have!

Any insight would be great, Thanks

  • Normally that's called "ambiguous", but there's also a specific class of words called "auto-antonyms." – Hellion Dec 13 '17 at 0:30
  • I'll have a look at auto-antonyms! Cheers – deej Dec 13 '17 at 1:11
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    Also called contranyms. – Mick Dec 13 '17 at 1:51

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