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contronym (KAHN-troh-NIM) noun

A word that generates two opposite meanings. More popularly, they are known as Janus-faced words because the Greek god Janus had two faces that looked in opposite directions.

"The moon is VISIBLE tonight." "The lights in the old house are always INVISIBLE."

Although the two capitalized words are opposite in meaning, both can be replaced by the same word -- out. When the moon or sun or stars are out, they are visible. When the lights are out, they are invisible. Thus, out is a contronym.

Other examples: cleave: separate; adhere firmly. a. A strong blow will cleave a plank in two. b. Bits of metal cleave to a magnet.

oversight: careful supervision; neglect. a. The foreman was responsible for the oversight of the project. b. The foreman's oversight ruined the success of the project.

This week's theme: Naming the nyms, by Richard Lederer.

Sponsor of today's AWAD: The enchantment of Christmas lives in Santa's Secret Village at http://www.northpole.com/AWAD/ . Enjoy our FREE activities!


Never confuse motion with action. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)

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