Spellzone is wicked!

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Have you ever felt out of touch when diachronic change means that words you thought you knew take on a new, antonymous meaning?

Words like this come in and out of popularity every year, but their altered meanings can remain for a long time and sometimes deciding which meaning is intended can be confusing.

For example, the word ‘wicked’, historically meaning cruel or evil has adopted a new usage in popular culture and is often used to describe something that is cool or excellent. The same can be said of the words: ‘sick’, ‘nasty’, ‘dirty’ amongst others. Informal English has changed so much over time that even the word ‘bad’ can mean the very opposite.

The phenomenon of a single word having two opposite meanings is by no means new…

When two words share the same spelling they are known as ‘homographs’. Homographs that can also mean their opposites are known as ‘autantonyms’ or ‘contranyms’.

Left’ could mean ‘remaining’ or ‘gone

Clip’ could mean ‘attach’ or ‘remove

Rent’ could mean to ‘borrow from’ or ‘lend to

Can you think of any more examples of ‘autantonyms’ - words with dual-meanings which really confuse you?

Hugh MacDermott

10 Sep 2014
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"Thank goodness for Spellzone during this remote learning phase. The site is easy for students to navigate independently and they're really enjoying the activities and spelling games. You get an awful lot for your money with Spellzone. Really reassuring is the very prompt response with helpdesk queries. I've very rarely needed the helpdesk, but when I have, the issue has been addressed and sorted within a very short time."

Sarah Taggart, Oasis Academy Lord's Hill