Definition of contronym in English:


Syllabification: con·tro·nym
Pronunciation: /ˈkäntrəˌnim
(also contranym)


  • A word with two opposite meanings, e.g., sanction (which can mean both ‘a penalty for disobeying a law’ and ‘official permission or approval for an action’).
    More example sentences
    • Certainly, many of these contronyms are part of idiomatic expressions.
    • I'm not sure if this would be a pure contranym because the two phrases don't necessarily oppose each other.
    • Using a contronym requires the listener's knowing which of its meanings applies.


1960s: blend of contra- and -onym, on the pattern of synonym and antonym.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody