Same sound, opposite meaning

Drew Danielson andrew.danielson at CMU.EDU
Tue May 7 22:02:16 UTC 2002

Paul McFedries wrote:
> Is there an official term for homophonic words that have the opposite (or
> nearly the opposite) meanings? For example: raise and raze.
> Thanks.
> Paul

how about 'contronym'?

from an online chat archive at

On one of the AWAD forums we've had an ongoing discussion in regards to
cleave/cleave, two homonyms which are actually opposite in meaning. do
you know of any other such pairs of words?

Richard Lederer (Guest Speaker)
Regarding cleave/cleave, you'll find a listing of more than 50 of these
contronyms also in CRAZY ENGLISH. If any of you need specific material
like this, just email me at richard.lederer at and I'll attach it
and send it to you personally.

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•          <andrew.danielson at>         •
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