Wednesday, February 24, 2010

 

I know that "auto-antonym" (or "contranym" or "antagonym") means "a word that can be its own antonym." (List; "sanction" is probably the best-known; one missing from the list is "possessed." [Later: "trail" is missing too.]) Is there a term for a pair of words, neither of them auto-antonymous, that can be either synonyms or antonyms—for instance, "retiring" and "outgoing"? Probably not. I can't imagine anyone wasting time contemplating such a pointless subject. (Author slinks away hoping not to be noticed.)