Chapter 13: Vocabulary

Grammar > Vocabulary

Janus Words

There are many synonyms for Janus words:  antagonyms, autoantonyms, auto-antonyms, contronyms, and even contradictanyms. These are words that are the opposite of themselves.

To give a quick history lesson, January comes from the Roman god Janus—the god of beginnings, endings, and transitions. He is characterized by two faces: one looking forward and one looking backward.

Janus words have opposite or contradictory meanings, depending on the context in which they are used. They can reap confusion, but they can also be fun to use in conversation to spark a debate.

Maintaining this website requires alerts and feedback from the students that use it when they see a problem or have a suggestion.

Attribution information for this page: Jamie BridgePage keywords:  PageID:  eslid73007