Have you ever encountered a word and learned that it meant the opposite of what you remembered? If so, you may have come across a contronym.
Here are 10 contronyms that are commonly used as verbs in the English language:
➡ to dust
● Definition 1: to remove dust.
Example 1: My mother asked me to dust the window shades before the party.
● Definition 2: to sprinkle with soil or dust.
Example 2: I watched my mother dust my birthday cake in a thin layer of white sugar.
➡ to buckle
● Definition 1: to fasten or secure with a buckle (i.e., a device with a frame, hinged pin, and movable tongue, designed to fasten together two loose ends of a belt or strap).
Example 1: Our hiking instructors told us to buckle our backpacks to our bodies during rigorous climbs.
● Definition 2: to bend, warp, or collapse under pressure.
Example 2: I felt my legs buckle as I hiked up the steep mountain with my heavy backpack.
➡ to cleave
● Definition 1: to join or adhere closely; cling.
Example 1: The shy baby rabbit cleaved to his mother’s body.
● Definition 2: to split or divide, especially by cutting.
Example 2: The hunter uses a Swiss Army knife to cleave the rabbit’s meat from the bone.
➡ to enjoin
● Definition 1: to instruct, prescribe, or command.
Example 1: For my sake, our family counsellor enjoined my parents to communicate with each other after their divorce.
● Definition 2: to prohibit or forbid (especially via an injunction).
Example 2: After my parents’ divorce, the court enjoined my abusive mother from contacting me and my father.
➡ to overlook
● Definition 1: to monitor or inspect.
Example 1: Our teachers overlook our academic progress.
● Definition 2: to fail to notice or choose not to emphasize.
Example 2: Because they are tired, my teachers often overlook the spelling errors in my homework.
➡ to peruse
● Definition 1: to skim or read without attention to detail.
Example 1: My mind wanders when I peruse chemistry textbooks because I have no interest in science.
● Definition 2: to read or examine in detail.
Example 2: To study for the final exam, I sit down in a quiet room to peruse my chemistry notes.
➡ to ravel
● Definition 1: to tangle.
Example 1: When she is bored, my daughter ravels her hair into huge knots with her hands.
● Definition 2: to disentangle threads or fibers.
Example 2: My daughter uses tweezers to ravel stubborn knots in her hair.
➡ to rent
● Definition 1: to sell or lease the use of a commodity.
Example 1: The landlord rents her apartment in the city to a young couple.
● Definition 2: to buy the use of a commodity.
Example 2: Depending on how much money you want to spend, you can rent a room or an entire apartment from the landlord.
➡ to sanction
● Definition 1: to permit or grant approval.
Example 1: In some countries, the government sanctions the ownership of guns by private citizens.
● Definition 2: to condemn or penalize.
Example 2: In some states, the government imposes sanctions on the ownership of guns by private citizens.
➡ to screen
● Definition 1: to protect or conceal.
Example 1: Because he did not have a hat or umbrella, he used a newspaper to screen his face from the sun.
● Definition 2: to show or broadcast (a movie or TV show).
Example 2: The local movie theatre will screen the new horror movie tonight.