Contranyms - what they are and some great examples

so what are contranyms?
on Thu 25 Aug

As a copywriter it would be rather strange if I wasn’t a huge fan of words so when I came across the subject of contranyms I couldn’t wait to share some examples with you.


A contranym is a word with two opposite meanings. Yes folks it really is mess with your minds time! I suggest you put on the kettle and have a cuppa over this blog post – it’s definitely not one to scan read!


So here’s some examples:

  • Bolt: To secure or to flee
  • Bound: Heading to a destination or restrained from movement
  • Buckle: To connect together or to break or collapse under strain
  • Cleave: To adhere or to separate
  • Clip: To fasten or to cut
  • Consult: To offer advice or to obtain it
  • Custom: A common practice or a special treatment
  • Dust: To sprinkle over particles or to remove them
  • Fast: Quick or stuck or made secure
  • Finished: Completed or destroyed
  • Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement
  • Hold up: To support or to impede
  • Model: An exemplar or a copy
  • Out: Visible as with stars showing in the sky, or invisible, in reference to lights
  • Overlook: To supervise or to neglect
  • Oversight: Monitoring or failing to oversee
  • Peer: A person of the nobility or an equal
  • Quantum: Significantly large (as in leap) or a minuscule part
  • Quite: Rather (as a qualifying modifier) or completely
  • Rock: An immobile mass of stone or a shaking or unsettling movement or action
  • Sanction: To approve or to boycott
  • Scan: To peruse or to glance
  • Screen: To present as in film or to conceal as in high hedges!
  • Seed: To sow seeds or to shed them as in (floral) gone to seed
  • Skin: To cover or to remove
  • Splice: To join or to separate
  • Strike: To hit or to miss in an attempt to hit
  • Throw out: To dispose of or to present for consideration
  • Trim: To decorate or to remove excess from
  • Trip: A journey or a stumble
  • Variety: A particular type or many types
  • Wind up: To end or to start up


After you’ve had a small lie down in a small dark corner would you be able to think of any others?  I’d love to hear...



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