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Linguistic mechanisms section needs sources[edit]

Section Linguistic mechanisms is poorly sourced and needs citations. I am challenging the entire content of this section, including all of the examples, with the exception of the story about St. Paul's, and the "ar ball" example. Sources should be added to support the material in this section. Anything that remains unsourced, should be removed. Mathglot (talk) 06:12, 5 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I also feel as if it is hard to parse. The standard pattern is: World can mean 'Meaning One' or 'Meaning Two' - this works quite well, however some sections don't confirm to that layout and I makes it harder to understand as a result. Inputdata (talk) 16:44, 28 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Query of the given example "Impregnable"[edit]

Is Impregnable really an example of this? The example given of the inverse is "impregnation" (to get someone/something pregnant, or to add material into another material). It seems to me that the words have a common root, but, are themselves different words. It is the only example that, when reading through the list, made me stop and go "eh?". I don't wish to remove it just because I don't get it - perhaps I am just been thick? In any case it needs explanation as the citation is equally as confusing. --Inputdata (talk) 17:17, 28 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Tomgirl" can mean "boyish girl" or "girlish boy". --Sharouser (talk) 14:43, 14 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Two problems with this. First and foremost, we need a reliable source, and because this is not a list article and can't have an unlimited number of examples, the source needs be very reliable and unequivocally identify the word as an auto-antonym with an explanation. Secondly, an auto-antonym is a "word with multiple meanings (senses) of which one is the reverse of another". The reverse of "tomgirl" is ambiguous. It's not clear that "boyish girl" is the opposite of "girlish boy". "Boyish boy" could be the opposite of "boyish girl", and "girlish girl" could be the opposite of "girlish boy". If you find a reliable source it needs to clarify this ambiguity. Sundayclose (talk) 15:11, 14 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. It's not a good example even if a reliable source exists. Meters (talk) 18:29, 14 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Chiming in in agreement. As a general rule, it isn't up to Wikipedia editors to determine what the meaning of "opposite" is and to decide that "X is an example of it, but 'Y' is not," on our own say-so, because that's not our job here. The only examples listed in the article, should be those which have a footnote to a reliable source, or, if lacking a footnote, meet Verifiability in that a a source could be found if challenged. Otherwise, the example is original research and should be removed. This article's examples section is much better sourced than most articles about language issues, so hats off to all those that contributed to that. Even in those cases where an example isn't sourced, like sanction, this is clearly verifiable as it's one of the iconic examples given for this subject.
There are, however, a few examples which I would challenge, especially those in which the two supposedly "opposite" meanings apply to different parts of speech; notably, let, and left; or where a set phrase or phrasal verb is involved, as with off. I do not believe any of these should be there, and I will tag them as needing citations. Ditto bound, cite, and overlook. I'm officially challenging and tagging these six, and if not sourced in some reasonable amount of time (a month?) then they should be removed. Even more could be removed, even if sourced, because Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, and as Sundayclose pointed out, this is not a list article. But for starters, I'll be happy if those six or sourced or removed. Mathglot (talk) 18:49, 14 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Mathglot and Meters: I'm very much in favor of removing some of the examples, including those that are tagged and any that are unsourced. Since this is not a list article, we only need a few stellar examples. Sundayclose (talk) 22:24, 14 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sundayclose:, I agree. Depending how BOLD you're feeling, you could just go ahead and do so now and see who complains. Or, if you're feeling less adventurous, you could nominate a few to cut, or keep, here, and I'm sure we could come up with some kind of consensus. Per WP:Verifiability, you're within your rights to remove anything unsourced, if you wish. The BURDEN is on the editor who added the material to source it, if they wish to readd it. And even then, excessive examples can be removed even if sourced. Mathglot (talk) 00:07, 15 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm in full agreement. Trimming the unsourced ones, particularly those for which the claim is convoluted, can only improve the article. Thanks for taking diving into this. Meters (talk) 00:24, 15 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Enjoin can be a command to do something or a command not to do something[1]. In the Talk:Auto-antonym § Removing words from the list section above, it was argued that these couldn't be opposites since they are both commands. I find this line of reasoning to be deeply flawed. It is analogous to saying that "yes" is not the opposite of "no" because they are both answers to a question. The fact that the two meanings of enjoin are opposites can easily be seen in its use. For example, if someone were to "enjoin" you to do X, with the intent that you don't do X, and then they find out that you had gone ahead and done X, they would rightly think that you had done the opposite of what they had asked. Further supporting this line of reasoning, enjoin is included in multiple lists of auto-antonyms from reliable sources[2][3], including one which is in the external links of this very page. While the inclusion of "enjoin" in these lists bolsters the case for its inclusion on the examples list of this page, I maintain that a consideration of the dictionary definition and the use of common sense is sufficient to see that "enjoin" is indeed an auto-antonym. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thelonelyneutrino (talkcontribs)

Some sources restrict the meaning "forbid" to legal terminology that isn't used in ordinary English. For example, [1], [2], [3]. In a technical sense, the meanings are opposite, but in terms of general usage, the meaning refers to telling someone authoritatively something about an action (as in "do that" or "stop doing that"). I can "order" someone to do something or stop doing something, but that doesn't make "order" an auto-antonym. Regardless of the nuances of meaning, however, my argument against including this word is that the article is not a list article; the number of examples is quite sufficient, and there is no need to add a word where there is some disagreement about whether it is an auto-antonym. The article isn't improved by adding a questionable word, and it isn't made worse by not including the word. With a little time I could come up with a few words that are possibly auto-antonyms, but I don't try to add them to the article because they are not clear-cut auto-antonyms and the article doesn't need additional examples. Sundayclose (talk) 02:51, 30 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Neither of the sources listed by Thelonelyneutrino is particularly reliable. The jburkardt page is just someone's personal web page, and the page includes a number of entries that, while they have different meanings, are not antonyms. "Pit" for example. A seed and a hole are not opposites. Sure, you can call them a "solid seed" and an "open pit" to try and make the case, but it's really a stretch. As Sundayclose says, this isn't a list article and we don't need more examples. If it's not a clear-cut auto-antonym it should not be added.
An IP added "ravel" about a year ago. That was a great example. It was added without a source so I added a reliable source (one of the Oxford dictionaries) that lists the contrary definitions "entangle" and "disentangle", and goes so far as to define "ravel" as "unravel". It does not get any better than that. Meters (talk) 06:19, 30 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ "Definition of enjoin". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Antagonyms, Contronyms or Auto-antonyms". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  3. ^ "AutoAntonyms The Same, And Different". Retrieved 29 June 2020.

Borrow/Lend in IE languages[edit]

Since no distinction was made in Proto Indo-European between borrowing and lending, this is a very common feature in many Indo European languages. This example is written too much as if it were a quirk of German and Polish, but the cognate contranym can be found in Spanish (prestar) and likely many other languages. I think this is such a general and interesting example it should be reworded. Its not just that German and Polish can have these words traced back to a Latin contranym, indeed a lange portion of human languages can trace their words for borrow or lend to a P.I.E. contranym. Coldham10 (talk) 06:49, 16 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prestar is not a contranym. -- Error (talk) 22:58, 30 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

oo got a new one[edit]

"down" = "up" or "down".

"I'm feeling down. You down for a party?"
"I'm feeling down. You up for a party?"
and for that matter
"I'm feeling up! You down for a party?"
"I'm feeling up! You up for a party?"

Not really up on this article so you all's call if it fits. Herostratus (talk) 19:54, 4 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"repress" = "to not allow something, especially feelings, to be expressed:"[1] or "reissue an album on vinyl or CD from the original master recording"[2] David Scrimshaw (talk) 17:09, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's not an auto-antonym. Meters (talk) 18:08, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To me, "reissuing" is the reverse of "not allowing something to be expressed", so "repress" seems to fit the definition: "a word with multiple meanings (senses) of which one is the reverse of another." David Scrimshaw (talk) 19:34, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They're not opposites. "Pressing" an album is not the opposite of "repressing" feelings. Someone can press and re-press an album. We cannot "press" feelings. Sundayclose (talk) 19:44, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pressing or reissuing an album is the opposite of not allowing the album to be expressed. But I take your opinion to suggest that it would not be well-taken for me to suggest adding this to the official lists. David Scrimshaw (talk) 20:08, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But the terms "pressing" and "repressing" are not opposites in a general sense; only in the extremely narrow context of albums. Additionally, a reliable source that these words are auto-antonyms is required. Also look closely if you open an edit window in the examples section: "THIS IS NOT A LIST ARTICLE. Provide a reliable source or get consensus for new entries. See WP:EXAMPLEFARM." There is a sufficient number of examples, so we don't need any that are questionable. The article is not improved by adding press-repress, nor is it damaged by not adding those words. So no, don't add it. Sundayclose (talk) 01:06, 15 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay. David Scrimshaw (talk) 01:29, 15 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And thank you, Sundayclose, I appreciate your clear and thoughtful response. David Scrimshaw (talk) 14:09, 15 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dubious examples[edit]

Do कल, کل‎, ospite, huésped, hôte and ar ball (which looks similar to French "tout à l'heure") really have opposite meanings ? "Host" and "guest" are different flavors of the same role: people who meet together. "کل‎" actually means "one day away from now". Apokrif (talk) 16:04, 28 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The "huésped" example in Spanish is wrong: "huésped" **always** means "guest", it never means "host" ("anfitrión"). A better example on a tangentially related word is the verb "alquilar" ("to rent"): it means both "to pay for rent [as a guest]" and "to provide a property for rent [as a host]". As a native Spanish speaker, this confusion drives me crazy! The andf (talk) 14:16, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The andf:  Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Sundayclose (talk) 14:21, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sundayclose what do you mean? Do you speak Spanish natively? Which of my two assertions look dubious to you, that "huésped" always means "guest" in Spanish or that "alquilar" ("to rent") has the two meanings that are the subject of this article? The andf (talk) 20:37, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The andf: You've missed the point. Whether you or I is fluent in Spanish is irrelevant for the purposes of Wikipedia. Personal knowledge is not considered a reliable source. See WP:V: "All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable. Any material ... must include an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the material." Read WP:RS for what is considered a reliable source, and read WP:OR for details about why your or my personal knowledge is not considered reliable. Hope this helps you understand. Sundayclose (talk) 20:55, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sundayclose: As an old Wikipedia user and edit war veteran, I expected your reply. You can do your due diligence and see I'm right and that "alquilar" is a way better example. I don't care, I was just trying to be helpful. You can have your win if winning is what you care about (a mild suggestion: try being less rude in your comments. Your bold red "Not done" is unwarranted. Again: don't argue, just take the suggestion to become a better wiki editor). The andf (talk) 20:59, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The andf: I am not here to win. I am trying to do what is best for Wikipedia. And please take careful note that the first message I gave you is a standard template that is endorsed by Wikipedia for use when someone makes a request for a change in an article that is not accompanied by a reliable source, as you did. See WP:ERREQ. It's perfectly OK that you made the request, but your hostile and argumentative tone after being told a simple Wikipedia policy are not acceptable. If anyone is being rude, it is you. So please watch your tone. I'm fluent in two languages, but if I make a suggestion here I would provide a reliable source, and I would not be offended if someone requested reliable source. It doesn't matter how long you or I have edited or how many edit wars we've been through, we all have to follow the rules. You don't have to like Wikipedia policies to edit here, but you do have to follow them. You don't have to like standard templates that editors are allowed to use, but any editor is allowed to use them. I wish you the best and hope you understand. Sundayclose (talk) 21:20, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sundayclose: I find your tone hostile, like someone gatekeeping instead of genuinely trying to improve the article. Before you reply denying this, just look at the reaction your comment elicited -- if you're a goal-oriented person, you'll adjust accordingly. Now, as for sources: See RAE for "alquilar", see how meanings 1 and 2 are in contradiction (and this is common usage). RAE does mention "huésped" can be seen as the host, so technically the example is correct and I was wrong, but... this is not how the word is used in practice. There is a very technical usage that is current: "huésped" for the "host" organism of a parasite/virus, but in this specific sense there is no confusion or duality, since the parasite itself is not called a "huésped". Spanish Wikipedia agrees with me; since the introduction of the word "anfitrión", that's the word we Spanish-speakers use for "host". Now, I know what you're going to say: "Wikipedia is not itself a reliable source". I know! But it does hint that this may not be the best example, does it not? So if you truly care about improving the article, maybe you'll accept this warrants looking into? The andf (talk) 21:48, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The andf: Feel free to look into anything. If you find a reliable source, it would be great if you gave it to us here. Now, I thank you for your comments; I'm finished discussing this with you. Have a good day. Sundayclose (talk) 21:54, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sundayclose: Please stop using the royal "we", you are not Wikipedia. This is precisely what I meant about your gatekeeping hostile tone. I provided a link to the RAE, which is a reliable source, and to Spanish Wikipedia, which is not but hints the issue warrants looking into. Now, if you care about the article, you may do something about this other than arguing with me. The andf (talk) 22:07, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Constructive Knowledge[edit]

In English, at least in American English, the term, "constructive knowledge", is often used to refer to a situation where there's a reasonable presumption of knowledge, but there is actually a lack of knowledge in spite of the reasonableness of the presumption. It mainly shows up in law. CessnaMan1989 (talk) 20:53, 16 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you're suggesting this as an addition to the article, please provide a reliable source that it's an auto-antonym. Sundayclose (talk) 02:09, 17 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Does not appear to be an auto-antonym. "Constructive knowledge" is a phrase, not a word, and it does not have an opposite meaning. It means, in a legal sense, knowledge that one is presumed to have. The presumption may be incorrect, but that does not mean that "constructive knowledge" has any other meaning. Meters (talk) 02:49, 17 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Meters: In a legal sense, the term is only used in situations where it's possible that the person doesn't actually have knowledge. General semantic construction of the English language would suggest that the phrase refers to actual knowledge that one or more people have attained through their own research. CessnaMan1989 (talk) 15:51, 18 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"All downhill from here"[edit]

This expression can mean 1. Something is worsening 2. Something is becoming increasingly easy, like how biking down a hill is easier than up it. They aren't exactly opposite meanings but close enough to merit being included on this page I think. Adam Friedland's Soiled White Pants (talk) 09:03, 6 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is not a list article and can't have an unlimited number of examples. The article doesn't need new examples, and if an item is added it needs a reliable source, AND the source needs to unequivocally identify the word as an auto-antonym with an explanation. Additionally, your example is a phrase, not a word. Read the first sentence in the article that defines auto-antonym. Sundayclose (talk) 16:49, 6 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed, and as with the previous thread, it's an expression, not a single word. Meters (talk) 18:54, 6 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Apology, bolt, bound and weather were removed[edit]

I added apology, bolt, bound and weather to the English examples section because they are auto-antonyms in common use that are not found in other articles, inside or outside of Wikepedia. The reason given for their removal was I did not, "Provide a reliable source". Each word was given a link to cites as its sources in the entries for these four words:

  • Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022
  • Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
  • The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary (Copyright © 2002)
  • The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition (Copyright © 2005)

Had these words been found in other sources they would not have been added to the examples and I would hope we could all agree that those dictionaries are reliable. I request the edit be reinstated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:35, 16 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More dubious Spanish examples[edit]

From the article:

The word escatología in Spanish means both "beliefs about the afterlife" (cognate with "eschatology") and "the study of feces, scatology"

But "beliefs about the afterlife" and "the study of feces" are not "opposite meanings", which the article states is a necessary condition for being auto-antonyms. So this is just a word with two completely unrelated (but not opposite) meanings. The andf (talk) 21:15, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm going to go ahead and remove this example, since it's not an auto-antonym based on its own definitions of both the meaning of the term and what it claims is the dual meaning of "escatología" in Spanish The andf (talk) 21:18, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. That's a recent addition that should never have been added. This article has a problem with excessive, often poor, examples (which is why we have the edit notice "THIS IS NOT A LIST ARTICLE. Provide a reliable source or get consensus for new entries. See WP:EXAMPLEFARM") but that one is simply dual meanings. Meters (talk) 22:13, 2 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One of the references contrasts both meanings:
“Escatología” define lo más elevado y lo más pedestre, referido directamente a las heces.
"Escatología" defines the most elevated and the most earthly, referring directly to feces.
--Error (talk) 20:21, 3 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's a Cordopolis interview with someone promoting his book (so the reliability is questionable), and a fuller quote is "... in the orthodox dictionary, many words have meanings that are almost antonymic. "Eschatology" defines the highest and the most pedestrian, referring directly to feces." (emphasis added). Meters (talk) 21:08, 3 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can there just be a list?[edit]

I have had this article on my watchlist for a while, and the editing on it seems to consist almost entirely of people bickering about whether examples are notable, and trying to keep the list short, and trying to add relevant things, et cetera, et cetera. Why don't we just spin out a list and be done with it? jp×g 05:01, 6 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You have every right to try to create a list, but it will open a huge can of worms. Lists like that are crap magnets, with everyone adding their favorite idea of what they personally consider a word to be an auto-antonym, usually with no source or forethought. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the encyclopedia that anyone can edit (which some people interpret to mean they can edit any way they wish). A list will result in even more bickering. As an example of a similar article, look at List of common misconceptions and its talk page archives. For many years that article has been inundated with disputes about what is considered a common misconception. And it has been a constant battle that has been fought by just a handful of editors. Sundayclose (talk) 15:45, 6 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Sundayclose. If you can justify a list article then go ahead and do it, but it certainly won't prevent the problem, it will just move most of it to another page. If such a list is created then I would suggest we remove the list in this article and just have a very few, absolutely solid examples in prose.
And calling the talk page discussions "bickering" is a rather negative view. The article's edit note explicitly says to get consensus for any new examples that do not have sources showing them to be auto-antonyms. Talk page discussion of proposed additions is exactly what should happen. Meters (talk) 01:47, 7 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]