FW: Same sound, opposite meaning

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed May 8 16:51:53 UTC 2002

In reply to Erin M's posting, Lynne M commented:

--On Wednesday, May 8, 2002 8:57 am -0500 Erin McKean
<editor at VERBATIMMAG.COM> wrote:

> There's an article in the most recent VERBATIM about these things,
> also called "janus words."
> Erin McKean
> editor at verbatimmag.com
>> Is there an official term for homophonic words that have the opposite (or
>> nearly the opposite) meanings? For example: raise and raze.

But 'raise' and 'raze' aren't Janus words in the usual sense, since they're
not spelt the same.


A classic example is "cleave": 'to cut something into separate pieces' and
'to cling to tightly'.  Similar is "hew" 'cut' and "hew to" 'adhere to'.

Frank Abate

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