History That Never Was

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Fun for Friday: Contronyms!

Dictionary page for dictionaryHave you ever heard of a contronym? Also called an auto-antonym, it’s a word that is its own opposite. For example, the word “bolt” can mean both “to secure,” as in “bolt the door,” or “to flee,” as in “bolt OUT the door.”

To pull one out of very common current usage, how about the word “literally”? While it really means “by the letter,” more and more, people are using it when they mean they’re not REALLY doing something. Like “I’m literally rolling on the floor.” Which I’m not doing, because I’m typing. You can read more about this specific instance and some others here. And for a great list of contronyms, Daily Writing Tips has you covered.


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