A word having two opposite meanings is called a contranym or a contronym or an antagonym.
Many of the examples below are taken from Enjoy your English! by Nick Renton.
Some of the pairs could more accurately be described as near-opposites.
bill: a banknote (an asset)
citation: words relating to an award for good behavior
cleave: to come apart
clip: to cut off (hair, wool and so on)
dust: to remove dust
fast: moving quickly
fine: of excellent quality
hold up: to support or sustain
impregnable: unable to be taken by force
lease: to rent out (as lessor)
let: to hinder
lift a levy: to increase the rate of a levy
overlook: to watch over
oversight: watchful control
put out: to extinguish
rent: to let out (as landlord)
sanction: to permit
screen: to hide from view
seed: to add seeds to something
Back to the top of this Page
Enjoy your English!
Compendium of Good Writing
Australia needs Tax Reform
Dictionary of Stock Exchange and Investment Terms
Questions and Answers about Style, Punctuation and Grammar
Home Page of Nick Renton AM