Top 5 English Words That Are In Situationships With Their Own Definitions

Before literally lost its precision and became a popular word used to describe literally every exaggerated feeling and circumstance, there have been words that have possessed contradicting definitions. They're called auto-antonyms or contranyms and speak to the beauty of context within each language.

Let these contradicting words remind us that the highest goal of language is not rules nor perfection, but to communicate and to be understood.

1. To Scan

Definition 1 - To glance over something quickly.

The manager scanned her application a minute before the interview.

Definition 2 - To study something carefully.

He scanned the crowd looking for his daughter.

The professor scanned the summary before she scanned the report for mistakes.

2. Original

Definition 1 - The oldest version of a product or concept

This is an original Basquiat painting.

Definition 2 - A a new and imaginative version of a product or concept

The opera singer brings an original flavor to a classic genre.

The latest phone design is much more original than the original.

3. To Dust

Definition 1 - To remove small particles from a surface.

Michael dusted his bookshelf.

Definition 2 - To add small particles to a surface.

The baker dusted his pastries with powdered sugar.

Long story short - Remember to dust after dusting dust.

4. Variety

Definition 1 - A specific type of thing within a group that sets itself apart

This variety of grapes are seedless.

Definition 2 - A non-specific collection of things

The market has a variety of grapes - including those with and without seeds.

Clearly, this market has varieties of all grape varieties.

5. To Clip

Definition 1 - To trim or cut away

Definition 2 - To add or fasten

She clipped the petals from the flower and clipped them to her hair.

Auto-antonyms exist across languages all over the world. Does your native language have some interesting ones? Share your favorites with the community!

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