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.
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.
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!