These 10 English Contronyms Have Opposite Definitions, Proof That English is Bloody Confusing

Just when we thought English couldn’t get anymore confusing with all its antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, and the blasted silent “e” (honestly), we’re introduced to the bloody contronym. Like the word suggests, it refer to words that have two contradictory meanings that are the opposite from each other.

So just when you think you’ve mastered the English language, whether you’re a native or non-native speaker, some word will show up and confuse the hell out of you. Seriously, who came up with these rules?

Here are ten contronyms to boggle your mind.

1| Screen

To protect (screen from the sun), or to broadcast (screen a movie).

2| Bolt

To secure (bolt a door), or to flee (bolt from danger).

3| Bound

To move toward a location (bound for New York), or be restricted to a location (bound to this house).

4| Cleave

To stick to something (cleaved to his mother), or separated from something (cleaved in two).

5| Dust

To remove particles (dust the dirty room), or to add particles (dust makeup).

6| Rent

To temporarily sell a space or object (rent out a house), or to buy the use of a space or object (rent a house).

7| Left

To stay behind (left alone), or to leave something behind (left the house).

8| Peer

An elite individual (peer of the realm), or a person of equal stature (a peer in the academe).

9| Sanction

To approve (sanctioned this construction), or to deny (sanctioned China).

10| Weather

To survive (weathered the storm), or to wear away (weathered the house).

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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