Contro these nyms

The Oxford Word Challenge

Slightly Harder Word Game


Contronyms also known as ‘autantonyms’ or ‘Janus words’ are words which have two opposite meanings, according to the context in which they occur. For example, with can mean ‘alongside’ in ‘Come with me’ but ‘against’ or ‘in opposition to’ in ‘Hannibal fought with the Romans’. And remember the pharmacist who unwisely advertises that he ‘dispenses with accuracy’! Can you identify these contradictory words?

1. To spray with powder or remove dust from.

2. Sanctified or damned.

3. Open to everybody or open to a restricted number of people.

4. Not good or very good.

5. Add to or remove from.

6. To open or shut.

7. Move gracefully or move clumsily.

8. To stick together or split apart.

9. A duty to notice things or a failure to notice things.

10. Remaining or departed.

11. That moves quickly or that does not move.

12. Very enthusiastic about something or very annoyed at it.

13. A three word phrase which means ‘to like more’ or ‘to like less’.

14. Acceptance and approval or disapproval and punishment.

15. A two-word phrase meaning either ‘working’ or ‘refusing to work’.

16. A two-word phrase meaning either ‘definite’ or ‘not possible’.

17. A two-word phrase meaning a small leap or a massive leap.

18. A two-word phrase meaning to stop something and to start something.


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