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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 September 25, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

When we were still children, our thoughts seemed to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

Just imagine then, how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power!

We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities.

We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

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We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb.

We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits.

And we’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head…

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

So, how can we tap into the power of positivity?

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“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are 4 simple yet powerful ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

Just take a look at these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

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You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty.

If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what really is important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life that can inspire you.

4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking.

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Instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

Learn from this article how to change your mental images: How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember:

You are (or will become) what you think you are.

This is reasonable enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

More About Staying Positive

Featured photo credit: Lauren Richmond via unsplash.com

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