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Autantonyms.

In the previous issue I cited the words "cleave" and "let" as self-contradictory words, capable of being applied with opposite meanings. Joseph T. Shipley has obviously explored this curious feature in much greater depth than I have and presents a formidable list of what he calls "autantonyms" in his delightful book Playing With Words, Cornerstone Library, 1966:

fast: a fast horse runs; a fast color doesn't.

dust: remove same from a suit; add same to a field of crops.

trim: embellish a Christmas tree; disembellish a fat cut of meat.

trip: move nimbly; stumble.

mortal: death-dealing; death-prone.

weather: wear well; wear out.

overlook: inspect; neglect.

cavalier: gallant and gentlemanly; haughty and ungentlemanly.

Shipley has other examples, among which I particularly like "to think better of." Applied to your neighbor it means to admire him more; applied to the plan he proposed it means to like it less.

Edited by DAVID L. SILVERMAN

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Beverly Hills, California 90210

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Title Annotation:Kickshaws
Author:Silverman, David L.
Publication:Word Ways
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2012
Words:225
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