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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 January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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