Words in English That Contradict Themselves

The English Language can be very ambiguous, especially when it comes to its complex vocabulary and grammar. Among all the concepts of English grammar such as the tenses, modal, imperatives and conditions, there are a certain set of words that have the same spelling but have completely different meaning.

Those words fall under the title of contronyms. Whether you are fluent in speaking English language or not, you might have definitely come across these words before, and probably you might have used them wrongly which has brought you here today. To know more about contronyms, go ahead and keep reading. I assure you, you won’t make the same mistake again.

Here are a few common contronyms being introduced to you to enhance your knowledge of English vocabulary.

To Overlook

Meaning 1: Fail to notice or neglect.
Sentence example: I overlooked my mistakes on my homework notebook.

Meaning 2: Have a view from above or to supervise.
Sentence example: My father overlooked my academic report card at the end of the year.

To Rock

Meaning 1: An immobile mass of stone.
Sentence example: The neighborhood kids threw a rock at my dog.

Meaning 2: To move back and forth.
Sentence example: She gently rocked the baby to sleep.

To Dust

Meaning 1: Remove particles to make the place clean.
Sentence example: I had to dust my window shield before the party could begin.

Meaning 2: Cover lightly with a powdered substance.
Sentence example: I dusted some powdered sugar on top of my cookies.

To Sanction

Meaning 1: A threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule.
Sentence example: The traffic police imposes sanctions to rash drivers.

Meaning 2: To give permission or approval.
Sentence example: My parents did not sanction my attendance at the fresher’s party.

To Screen

Meaning 1: to protect, conceal or shelter (something or someone)
Sentence Example: I used my favorite scarf to screen my face from the sun.

Meaning 2: to show or to broadcast (film or television program)
Sentence Example: Everyone’s eyes were glued to the screen after watching the news headlines.


Meaning 1: to move at very high speed
Sentence example: My dad always drove the car very fast due to which he often got sanctions from the traffic authority.

Meaning 2: immovable
Sentence example: The ship was held fast by the anchor chain.


Meaning 1: to have something on one’s body as clothing or decoration.
Sentence Example: I was very excited to wear my graduation gown.

Meaning 2: to damage or destroy by friction or use.
Sentence example: You need to carefully use your dresses to stop them from wearing out so easily.


Meaning 1: to fasten something.
Sentence example: He fastened up his belt quickly and rushed out of the door.

Meaning 2: to bend, warp or collapse under pressure.
Sentence example: The Bridge buckled in the storm.


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Kashfi Rahman
By Kashfi Rahman

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