What is an Auto-Antonym?

atkins bookshelf wordsGlad you asked. An auto-antonym is a word that has two contradictory meanings; that is to say, it means one thing as well as the exact opposite of that first meaning. Because of this, depending on how the auto-antonym is used in a sentence, it can create an ambiguous sentence. For example: She was very good at dusting. Dusting can mean removing fine particles (as in dusting the furniture) or adding fine particles (as in dusting a cake). Here is a list of the most common auto-antonyms in English.

Fast
1. Quick
2. Firmly

Original
1. Standard
2. Completely new

Clip
1. To cut or trim
2. To attach

Custom
1. A typical practice
2. Intended for a specialized purpose

Oversight
1. To supervise
2. To make a mistake

Fine
1. Good enough
2. Very nice

Buckle
1. To fasten
2. To come apart or collapse

Cleave
1. To separate two things
2. To cling

Bill
1. Legal tender
2. An invoice

Bolt
1. To fasten
2. To run quickly

Read related posts: What is the Longest Word in English Language?
Word Oddities: Fun with Vowels
What is an Abecedarian Insult?
Difficult Tongue Twisters
Rare Anatomy Words
What Rhymes with Orange?

For further reading: The Book of Word Records by Asher Cantrell (2013)

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