Same sound, opposite meaning

Towse self at TOWSE.COM
Tue May 7 22:55:23 UTC 2002

Drew Danielson wrote:
> 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
> <shnippity>
> tsuwm
> 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.
> </shnip>

Contronyms, I believe, are words which conflict with themselves:
dust/dust, critical/critical.

An interesting "nym" listing, including contronym, charactonym,
retronym and more. A number of the nyms are taken from Lederer's
Crazy English, 1989.

A favorite? Exonym.

useful links for writers:

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