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25 Words that are their own opposites

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

It's always Opposite Day somewhere

Sometimes words have multiple personalities, too. Be careful using these 25 words that have two definitions that are exact opposites!

Confused woman

It's always Opposite Day somewhere

Sometimes words have multiple personalities, too. Be careful using these 25 words that have two definitions that are exact opposites!

13

First degree

You don't want to be accused of first-degree murder (the most severe), but if you get a sunburn, you don't want it to go above first degree (the least severe).

14

Fight with

If you fight with someone, he or she could be your opponent (the person you're competing against) or your ally (someone you fight alongside). You could also be referring to your weapon of choice.

15

Garnish

Garnish means to add enhancements (as in food), but it can also mean to take away (as in your wages).

16

Help

If you help someone with something, you're providing assistance, but if you can't help doing something, you're incapable of preventing it.

17

Left

Left can either mean remaining behind or going away. We've all left a restaurant and later realized we left our cell phone there.

18

Literally

For years, grammarians battled against saying "literally" when you mean "figuratively." In 2013, Merriam-Webster officially recognized the word's hyperbolic meaning as a way to emphasize that something has the effect of actually happening. (Her discovery literally turned the world upside down.)

19

Oversight

Oversight can mean to supervise or manage, but it can also mean to fail to see or observe, which isn't conducive to good management.

20

Sanction

If you sanction something, you are either imposing a penalty or giving formal approval.

21

Screen

If you screen a movie, you show it. If you screen something from view, you hide it.

22

Seed

To seed could mean to remove the seeds (as in a bell pepper) or to add seeds, as in to seed your lawn.

23

Toss out

If you decide to toss out a potential solution, do you mean to submit or to discard it?

24

Quantum

It may seem strange that a quantum particle is the smallest amount of certain forms of energy, such as light, while a quantum leap is a huge step forward (usually in a field of study), but there is a simple explanation. The quantum field theory may relate to tiny particles, but it was a huge advancement in physics.

25

Variety

Variety can refer to one type of something (golden delicious is a variety of apple), but it can also mean multiple types (a variety of apples means they aren't all golden delicious).

More words to know

40 Southern phrases explained
100 Words that instantly make you sound smarter
100 Words that instantly make you sound dumber

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