Introducing Janus words: These puzzling words are their own opposites

A look at some of the most confounding contranyms!

Stars Insider

28/09/22 | StarsInsider

LIFESTYLE Vocabulary

Contranyms, or Janus words, are words with two opposite meanings, depending on the context in which they're used. Also known as antagonyms or auto-antonyms, these interesting words, of which there are at least more than a hundred, are nicknamed "Janus words" after the two-faced Roman god Janus, who was, among other things, the patron deity of transition and duality. Just like Janus, these words represent the beautiful duality and fluidity of language, where simple words can be used to express such a variety of ideas depending on their usage.

Not only can knowing about contranyms help you with your vocabulary and word usage, it can also be a fun mind game figuring out all the different ways you can use everyday words. Curious? Read on to learn about some of the coolest contranyms in the English language.

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