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25 Words With Contradictory Meanings You May Not Know

25 Words With Contradictory Meanings You May Not Know

Oh, contronyms—those difficult, vexing little words that can totally alter a sentence if used inappropriately. Many people aren’t aware that there are oodles of words out there that can have contradictory meanings, and if put in the wrong context, can leave the reader with their eyebrow arched right into their hairline. Let’s take a look at some of the terms that are often misused, in the hope that we can refrain from traumatizing our dedicated readers in the future.

1. Bolt (to fasten tightly, or to break free)

The door was bolted shut, but she broke through it and bolted to freedom.

2. Bound (tied up, and running free)

Edgar thought the stag was bound to the tree, but he realized his mistake when he watched it bound merrily into the forest.

3. Buckle (to connect, or to break or collapse)

Mona was sure to buckle her kids’ seatbelts every time they got in the car. She was sure that one of these days she’d buckle under the strain of parenting quintuplets on her own.

4. Dust (to cover with a fine sprinkling, or to remove that sprinkling)

The baker decided to dust the pastries with a bit of icing sugar. Never mind the mess; she could dust and sweep it away later.

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5. Fast (firmly, and quickly)

Wulfgar realized that he was stuck fast in the quagmire; he’d have to move fast to free himself from it.

6. Fine (of high quality, or just barely tolerable)

You can cancel a date at a fine restaurant so you can watch the game with your friends, but you’ll upset your girlfriend if you do. She’ll tell you that it’s “fine”, but know that you’re up sh*t creek, bro. Seriously.

7. First degree (least severe, or most severe)

Xavier received first degree burns while committing first degree murder.

8. Fix (restore, or castrate)

Emma made sure that the door on Cujo’s crate was fixed: he might be angry when he came back from the vet’s after being fixed, and it would be best to keep him at a distance for a while.

9. Garnish (to remove, or to add to and decorate)

The CEO realized that he’d have to garnish his employee’s wages in order to pay for the garnish needed on his daughter’s wedding cake.

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10. Give out (produce/donate, or stop working)

Marcus wanted to give out 3 tonnes of Halloween candy, but he figured his heart would give out after the first few hours of tossing sugary snacks at kids.

11. Help (to take, or to give aid to)

Help yourself to all the biscuits you can eat, though I’ll need your help washing dishes later.

12. Left (remained, or departed)

There were only a few biscuits left on the plate after the party, and Fred had left without helping with the dishes.

13. Off (activated, or deactivated)

The house alarm went off after dad accidentally shut the power off.

14. Out (in view of, or invisible)

We only noticed how many stars were out after we had turned the lights out.

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15. Overlook (has a view of, or is ignored)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s house overlooks the mountains. How could anyone overlook the gorgeous trees growing on them?

16. Oversight (monitor, or fail to oversee)

The new supervisor was given oversight of the important fundraiser, which may not have been the wisest decision. The CEO had to reassure the mayor that his lack of invitation was an oversight, not an insult.

17. Quite (rather, or completely)

Mrs. Featherbottom was quite tired after judging the 53rd annual rose gardening competition, and decided to quit the following year: she’d had quite enough of flowers for one lifetime.

18. Screen (to present, or conceal)

Jeff wanted to screen his new film at the cosplayer convention, but knew he’d have to screen impressionable youngsters from seeing it.

19. Seed (to remove seeds, or to sow them)

Be sure to seed the tomatoes before you turn them into sauce, so we can use the pips to seed the garden next spring.

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20. Skin (remove a layer from or add a layer to)

Daryl made sure to skin the dead snake his brother found so he could skin his iPhone in something cool.

21. Strike (to hit, or miss an attempt to hit)

Manfred tried to strike the ball with his bat, but deep down he knew he’d strike out yet again.

22. Stroke (a forceful strike, or a gentle caress)

At the stroke of midnight, I decided to stroke my cat’s back.

23. Trim (add to, or detract from)

We can trim the Christmas tree, and trim the crust off bread at breakfast. Later, we’ll trim your hair before dinner, and then have a feast with all the trimmings.

24. Variety (singular, or generalization)

There was a variety of different apples on the table, but Klaus just ate the Mackintosh ones, as that’s the only variety that he likes.

25. Weather (withstand, or wear away)

That old barn has weathered many storms, but is now looking fairly weathered and worn.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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