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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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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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