Word List: Antagonyms

This is a word I made up to describe a single word that has meanings that contradict each other. My derivation of the word antagonyms is :

1. an·tag·o·nize (àn-tàg´e-nìz´) verb, transitive

To counteract.

[Greek antagonizesthai, to struggle against : anti-, anti- + agonizesthai, to struggle (from agon, contest).]

2. -onym suffix

Word; name: acronym.

[Greek -onumon, neuter of -onumos, having a specified kind of name, from onuma, name.]

Example of an Antagonym:

A current example would be "BAD". There is the normal meaning and the slang meaning of "good" (sometimes pronounced baad for emphasis). Although I prefer words in which the antithetical definitions are listed in common dictionaries, I will accept well-known slang examples.

A number of antagonyms result from use of the prefix "re-". The meaning "again" may conflict with other meanings. We will continue to add these words to the list as we receive them.

Anabasis: A military advance vs. A militaryretreat

Anon : Immediately [Archaic] or soon vs.Later

Anxious: Full of mental distress because of apprehensionof danger or misfortune [in effect, seeking to avoid] (We wereanxious about the nearby gunshots.) vs. Eager orlooking forward to (Until you returned, I was anxious to see you.)(1)

Apparent: Not clear or certain (Fornow, he is the apparent winner of the contest.) vs.Obvious (The solution to the problem was apparent to all.) (1)

Assume: To actually have (To assume office) vs.To hope to have ("He assumed he would be elected.")

Avocation: A hobby vs. a regular occupation[and one could say it's a triple antagonym if you agreethat the archaic meaning of "a distraction" is the oppositeof working (even at a hobby) and if you agree that the obsoletemeaning of "a calling away" takes you away from (theopposite of participating in) your hobbies, work, and even yourdistractions!]

Awful: Extremely unpleasant, ugly vs. Awe-inspiring[typically, a feeling of admiration]

Bad: See above

Bound: Moving ("I was bound for Chicago") vs.Unable to move ("I was bound to a post", or less literally,"I was bound to my desk")

Buckle: to hold together (e.g. buckle your belt) fall apart (e.g., buckle under pressure)

Bull: A solemn edict or mandate vs. Nonsenseor worthless information

Chuff: Elated vs. Unhappy

Cite, Citation: For doing good (such as military gallantry)vs. for doing bad (such as from a traffic policeman)

Cleave: To adhere tightly vs. To cut apart

Clip: to attach vs. to cut off

Cool: positive sense (cool web-sites) vs.negative sense(cool reception).

Comprise: To contain entirely vs. To be includedin ("The United States comprises 50 states"; "The50 states comprise the United States") [Some will argue withboth uses, including me; however, both uses have become commonplaceand some sources list both without comment.]

Counterfeit: [Archaic] a legitimate copy vs.a copy meant to deceive

Cut: get in (as in line or queue) vs. getout (as in a school class)

Dust: To remove dust vs. To applydust (as in fingerprinting)

Effectively: in effect (doing the equivalent of the actionbut not the real thing) vs. with effect (doing theaction and doing it well) [Contrast "he is effectively lying"(colloquial?) with "he is lying effectively"]

Enjoin: To order someone to do something vs.To stop someone from doing something [such as in law by an injunction]

Fast: Moving rapidly vs. Unable to move ("Iwas held fast to my bed.")

Fix: to restore to function (fixing the refrigerator) make non-functional (fixing the dog)

Fearful: Causing fear vs. Being afraid

Goods: [Slang] good things vs. bad things("I have the goods from the warehouse robbery, but I'm worriedthe police have the goods on me.")

Hysterical: Being overwhelmed with fear [in some cases]vs. Being funny

Incorporate: When a village is incorporated, it is formed,but when it is incorporated into a city, the village is destroyed

Inflammable [a pseudo-antagonym!]: Burns easilyvs. [the incorrect assumption by many that the prefixin- makes it mean:] Does not burn [Only the first definitionis correct; the risk of confusion has removed this word from gasolinetrucks!]

Last: Just prior vs. final (My last bookwill be my last publication)

Lease, Let, Rent: [in essence] To loan out for money vs.To "borrow" for money

Left: To remain vs. to have gone (Of allwho came, only Fred's left. [Does it mean he's the only one whostill remains or that he's the first to depart?])

Let: [Archaic] To hinder vs. To allow

License: Liberty or permission to do something vs.Undue or excessive freedom or liberty

Literally: Precisely vs. often corruptlyused to mean "figuratively" (As in: "There wereliterally millions of people at that party."). Our correspondentwrites: Many people think this is an error, albeit a common one;but I think "Literally millions of people" isn't somuch error as a form of hyperbole; the trouble is that the literalmeaning of "literally" is, among other things, "nothyperbolically."

Livid: Pale, ashen vs. dark gray-blue (andsometimes corrupted to mean bright red!)

Mad: carried away by enthusiasm or desire vs.carried away by hatred or anger

Moot: [a slight stretch here] A moot point is one thatis debatable, yet is also of no significance or has been previouslydecided, so why debate it?

Overlook: to pay attention to, to inspect ("We hadtime to overlook the contract.") vs. to ignore

Oversight: Watchful and responsiblecare vs. An omission or error due to carelessness

Peruse: Read in a casual way, skim (To peruse the Sundaypaper) vs. to read with great attention to detailor to study carefully (To peruse a report on financial conditions).

Policy: Required activity without exception (Universitypolicy) vs. An optional course of action (our government'spolicy regarding the economy)

Populate: To decimate the population (obsolete use) increase the population

Practiced: Experienced, expert (I am practiced in my work)vs. Inexperienced effort (The child practiced coloring.)

Prescribe: To lay down a rule vs. To becomeunenforceable

Presently: Now vs. after some time

Quite: Completely vs. Not completely (e.g.,quite empty [totally empty]; quite full [not completely full,just nearly so])

Ravel: to disentangle or unravel vs. to tangleor entangle

Recover: hide away (cover again) vs. bringout [hyphenated] (The dinosaur bones were exposed by the floodbut then re-covered with dirt, hiding them again; centuries later,the paleontologists recovered them by removing the dirt.)

Refrain: In song, meaning to repeat a certain part vs.To stop (Please refrain from using bad language)

Release: let go vs. hold on (lease the propertyagain) [hyphenated as re-lease]

Replace: Take away (replace the worn carpet) vs.Put back (replace the papers in the file)

Repress: holdback vs.put forth (press again) [hyphenated]

Reprove:rebuke (reprove a colleague's work) (re-prove a scientist's theory)

Reservation:what you make when you know where you want to go vs.what you have when you're not sure if youwant to go

Reside:to stay put vs.[Slang] to change places (change teams) [hyphenated as re-side]

Resign:to quit a contract vs. tosign the contract again [hyphenated as re-sign]

Restive: refusing to move (forward) (a restive horse) vs.Restless (moving around)

Restore [in the following use]: The painting was said tobe a fake, so the museum re-stored it in the warehouse. When itwas later found to be real, the museum restored it to its placein the gallery.

Riot: Violent disorder vs. Revelry {Considerwhat is meant when one says, "It was a riot!")

Rival: An opponent vs. (Archaic) A companionor associate

Rocky: Firm, steadfast vs. tending to sway(e.g., a rocky shelf)

Root: To establish (The seed took root.) vs.To remove entirely (usually used with "out", e.g., toroot out dissenters)

Sanction: Support foran action (They sanctioned our efforts.) vs.A penalty for an action (The Congressman wassanctioned for inappropriate behavior.)

Sanguine: (Now poetic)Causing or delighting in bloodshed [according to contributor,also describes a person worked up into a bloody rage] vs.A person hopeful or confident of success [essentially someonecalm about something]

Scan: to examine closelyvs. to look over hastily

Screwed: [Slang,vulgar] Had a good experience (We screwed around all night.) vs.To have a bad experience (I was screwed by that cheater.)

Secreted: Havingput out, released vs.Placed out of sight

Shank: (Informal) The early part of a period oftime (It was just the shank of the evening when the party began.)vs. (Informal) The latter part of a periodof time (It was the shank of the evening when the party ended.)

Shop: To search with the intent to buy ("I shoppedfor a book at several stores.") vs. To searchwith the intent to sell ("I shopped my manuscript to severalpublishers.")

Sick: unpleasant (A sick joke) vs. wonderful(Slang: That sportscar is really sick!)

Skin: to cover with askin vs. toremove outer covering or skin

Strike out: An ending, as in "The batter struck out."vs. A beginning, as in "I thought it was timeto strike out on my own." Also, a strike inbowling occurs when there is complete contact between ball andwood (of the pins), whereas a strike in baseball occurswhen there is complete absence of contact between ball and wood(of the bat). {W} Also, to strike causes stoppage of workwhereas in the theater to strike is to work on the set,lighting, etc.

Terrific: (Informal) Extraordinarily good vs.Causing terror

Transparent: Easily seen ("His motives were transparent.")invisible

Trim: To add things to (trim a Christmas tree) vs.or take pieces off (trim hair)

Antagonistic phrases, usually informal

These are phrases that (probably through corruption) have cometo mean the opposite of what they should mean if taken literally.

All downhill from here: Things are going to get bettervs. things are going to get worse

Could care less: (Used as if it were synonymous with "couldnot care less.") One has no interest at all

Fought with: Fought on the same or opposite sides (TheFinns fought with the Germans in WW II.)

Like never before: totally amateurish vs.with great skill (She's dancing like she's never danced before.)

Look out for: see Watch out for

Take care of: Look out for and nurturevs. get rid of or kill (As heard on NPR by commentatorDiane Roberts discussing the meaning of saying "we're goingto take care of Timothy McVeigh [convicted bomber]) {contributedby A}

Near miss: A hit close enough to achieve the effect vs.narrowly falling short of the objective

Restrict access to: ("To restrict access to adultmovies, please contact the front desk.") To allow accessonly to vs.

to disallow access to

Steep learning curve: To most, this means "difficultto learn" or "taking a long time to learn," butcan also mean "easy to learn, taking a short time."(I think some workers mean the former when they refer to a processthat has a steep learning curve, and to the latter when referringto a person who masters the process with a steep learning curve.This antagonym may be controversial.)

Tell me about it: I want to know more vs.I already know.

Watch out for: A positive statement meaning try to findor partake of vs. A negative statement meaning avoid(Watch out for this movie.)

Here's an interesting phrasing: Football coach Lloyd Carrof the #1-ranked University of Michigan Wolverines, after finishingundefeated (11-0) with a victory over Ohio State, explaining hispreseason view of the team's schedule: "There wasn't onegame that we knew we couldn't win, but we also realized therewasn't one we couldn't lose." [The Ann Arbor News, November23, 1997, p. D1.] [In the Detroit Free Press the next day (p.D4), the last phrase is quoted as "…there wasn't onewe could lose."] Coach, don't think we don't know what youmean (!), and your multiple double-negatives rate a place on ourwebpage!

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