19 Surprising Contronyms

By December 16, 2017Language

Contronyms are also known as ‘auto-antonyms’, a word with multiple meanings with one being the contradiction of another. For example: to dust is to remove debris from a surface, while to dust can also mean to sprinkle something onto a surface… We can dust the worktop to remove any debris before placing the cake down to then dust it with icing sugar.

Here are some of our favourite contronyms in the English language.




“He buckled his shoes.”

“His legs buckled beneath him.”

“Her legal case was continued until after the New Year.”

“She continued to work any way.”

“They finished their work quickly.”

“They finished their enemy with a fatal blow.”

“She had to fix the kitchen tap.”

“She should get the dog fixed.”

“He had to go immediately.”

“The elastic on his pants was beginning to go.”

“She used blu tac to hold up her posters.”

“She was held up by bad traffic.”

“He was the only one left.”

“I left him at the party.”

“The light had been turned off.”

“The alarm was going off.”

“The stars are out tonight.”

“The lights went out.”

“I must overlook the work you are doing.”

“The mistake was overlooked.”

“You have 1 minute to complete this puzzle.”

“I am puzzling over this conundrum.”

“I rented this lawnmower for a week.”

“He rents his property to a nice family.”

“The schemes were officially sanctioned.”

“Due to late payment he was warned and then sanctioned.”

“The film was due to screen in 20 cities.”

“She was screened by the heavy curtain.”

“They tabled the discussion for another day.”

“They tabled a motion for immediate debate.”

“The hot sun was tempered by the cool breeze.”

“He now has tempered glass on his smartphone.”

“She could see through the transparent paper.”

“The meaning of the poem was transparent.”

“He trimmed the hedge.”

“He trimmed the hat with lace.”

“We must wind this up now.”

“He wound up acting in the play.”




Alternative Word Definitions from British Comedy Legends

By | Culture, Language | No Comments
Definitions can naturally change over time through usage and societal influences- such is the joy of the English language! With the help of BBC Radio Four’s legendary comedy team we are lucky enough to have some hilarious alternative definitions to consider for the future.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue has been on our radios since 1972 with regulars Humphrey Lyttelton, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Willie Rushton. Throughout the years, the “antidote to panel shows” has featured comedy greats such as Sandi Toksvig, Pam Ayres, Victoria Wood, Bill Oddie, Richard Osman, Stephen Fry, and Jo Brand.

As well as the genius of Mornington Crescent, the team regularly come up with entries into the Uxbridge English Dictionary, an imaginary dictionary full of daffynitions (similar to transpositional puns).

Check out our selection of daffynitions below!

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Student Creates Most Useless Phonetic Alphabet in the World

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English is a funny old language isn’t it? Phonetic isn’t phonetic, we have a stack of silent letters, ‘queue’ has one letter that is sounded and four that are silent (or patiently waiting their turn).

Well now a student at an unknown university has created the most useless phonetic alphabet imaginable. Could you imagine anything less helpful? Scroll down to see.

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15 moments when a Swansea bookshop won Twitter

By | Bookshops, Language | No Comments
Bookshops are often thought of as quiet, thoughtful places where people go to buy, read, and sniff the books. Sometimes it can be tricky to make the bookshop seem like a super-exciting and stimulating place to be, but one branch of Waterstones has been trying to entice people in with their witty rhetoric on Twitter.

Ok, so perhaps the only people impressed with cheeky banter from a retail social media account are possibly just Reading Addicts… And it is a good job you are all here!

Settle down with a cup of tea and these 15 witty, silly, and funny quips from Swansea Waterstones.

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Lancôme helps tackle illiteracy in young women

By | Language, News | One Comment
Lancôme have joined forces with the National Literacy Trust to create a new programme tackling illiteracy in young women. The UK’s shocking stats show that 9% of young women aged 16-24 are affected by illiteracy and 14% lack basic literacy skills. These problems usually stem from low pay, and unemployment.

Words For Work: Women in Leadership was launched this week in London with help from NLT’s Fiona Evans, actor Kate Winslet and writer Chidera Eggerue, as part of Lancôme’s global campaign Write Her Future. The global campaign aims to tackle the literacy crisis that affects over 76 million young women. The partnership will last for at least three years, in three schools for the first year, in three cities- London, Nottingham and Manchester.

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10 examples of how the English language trolls us

By | Language, On Writing | No Comments
The English language has been trying to trick us for centuries. Homophones are not necessarily homographs, and vice versa.  We steal words from other languages, alter some, inexplicably keep others unchanged. It is a wonderful process that ends up with a language that bamboozles and baffles those attempting to learn English as a second (or third or fourth) language.

To be perfectly honest it confounds even native English speakers at times.

Here are 15 examples of when the English language has trolled us very cleverly indeed.

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Study Finds Social Media May Be Causing Lower Literacy Levels in Children

By | Language, News | No Comments
A recent study by University College London (UCL) has suggested that heavy use of social media can cause lower levels of literacy in children. The study was based on 11,000 children tracked from their births in 2000 and has found that time spent on social media could be distracting children from reading and homework, thus having an adverse effect on their literacy.

As The Telegraph reports, Director of UCL’s International Centre for Lifecourse Studies, Professor Yvonne Kelly, said the findings suggest a link between “the amount of time young people spend on social media and their levels of literacy.” Read More

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