ey, grammar geeks! This one's for you!
We all know about synonyms, antonyms, even homonyms, but how about contronyms? Contronyms are words that have two distinct and totally different meanings. They can mean one thing, or they can mean the opposite.
Isn't the English language just so lovely and straightforward?
To sanction something can mean to approve something (like this seal) OR to impose a penalty on something. So “I sanction thee!” is quite the ambiguous statement.
Oversight can refer to supervision or the failure to supervise. As in, whoever defined this word committed a grave oversight.
OK, we’re not talking about lefties here, but how sad is that picture?
Left can refer to what’s remaining (How are there only two donuts left? I put them in the break room five minutes ago.) or what’s departed (Ten donuts just left the break room…with Jim.).
You can be bound for somewhere (Denver, glory), or you can be restrained in one spot, bound and tied to something (a previous commitment, train tracks).
Or you can watch Homeward Bound. But don’t! It’s sad! I hate it!
Dust is either a noun or a verb. When it’s a noun, it’s a very dirty thing. When it’s a verb, it means to get rid of…itself. “There’s dust! Better dust!” makes sense, but it sounds crazy if you think about it.