I recently saw this headline on the Granuaid front page: Havelange 'paid millions in bribes'

In this case, Havelange received the bribes, but the headline still works. It struck me that its naive meaning would be the opposite i.e. Havelange umm.. paid the bribes to someone else.

Is there a term for this sort of double-loading where a sentence could represent a proposition and also its converse? Any other examples?


  • Other examples? Oh, yes, some folks have entire collections of them, particularly the more humorous ones. Some are ambiguous, but others are just ill-advised word pairings, like, One-armed man applauds kindness of strangers.
    – J.R.
    Jul 12 '12 at 9:20
  • Many of those stem from polysemous words. My example, I believe, is made possible because English has two voices.
    – Gyan
    Nov 9 '15 at 6:36

Amphiboly is used to refer to such grammatical structures.

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