Contronyms from Apology to Custom

Homonyms are confusing enough, but there is another category of confusing words: contronyms. With contronyms, each word is its own antonym.

belt buckle, flickr

belt buckle, flickr

When you offer someone an apology, are you saying sorry or are you defending what you have done? When you bolt down a chair, it stays put. But you can bolt from a fight? A buckle holds things together, but what happens when a building buckles?

apology
We all know what an apology is. It is when you tell someone you’re sorry for some action you’ve done.
Susie found it hard to make an apology for the wrong she had done to her friend.
But did you also know that apology also has another meaning? It can also mean to defend an action like capital punishment or abortion.
The student published a paper outlining his apology of capital punishment and when he felt it should be carried out.

aught
Aught means all.
For aught I know.
Aught can also mean nothing or zero.
Aught was left of the delicious dessert.

brown duck with blue bill, wikipedia

brown duck with blue bill, wikipedia

bill
You receive a bill for services rendered when you go to the doctor.
The young lady passed out when she was handed her doctor’s bill.
You pay the doctor with a fifty-dollar bill. Okay, most of the time now you probably pay with a check or credit card, but there was a time when everything was paid with bills or cash.
There are not a lot of things that can be bought with just a one-dollar bill.

bolt
When you bolt an item down, you secure it and ensure it won’t go anywhere.
He is going to bolt the bookcase to the wall.
When you bolt from an event, you flee from it.
Without a second thought, Andrea prepared to bolt from the scene of the crime.

person bound to chair, flickr

person bound to chair, flickr

bound
If Stephen is headed or intending to head in a specific direction, he is bound for his destination.
The commuters bound for home thought the subway was safe to travel on.
If a kidnapper has bound this young man to a chair, then he can’t move or go anywhere.
Debra had been bound to a chair in the kitchen by the intruders, but she was determined to find a way of escape.

buckle
You buckle a belt to hold it together.
The stewardess told everyone to buckle their seatbelts.
When a building is about to buckle, it is about to fall apart and collapse.
The earthquake caused a few of the buildings in the city to buckle.

cleave
If you cleave to something, then you stick to it no matter what. Or if you cleave to a person, you stick by them through thick and thin.
Even when faced with the possibility of death, the young lady chose to cleave to her beliefs.
But you can cleave, or cut off, a branch from a tree, or an explorer can cleave his way through the wilderness.
The robbers had to cleave through the cement wall before they could enter the bank.

clipping hedges, wikipedia

clipping hedges, wikipedia

clip
When you clip something, you cut part of it.
When you clip the hedges, please be careful not to kill any of its flowers.
But you can use a clip to hold things together or in place.
Amanda used a clip to hold her hair in place.

consult
When you consult with someone, you ask them for advice.
Harold went to consult with a lawyer to find out his rights.
Or you could consult with someone to give advice to them.
I was hired to consult on the project.

continue
You could continue, or go on, with a trip.
One family chose to continue on their way to the mountains.
But you could also continue, or stay, in a house for a long period of time.
The other family decided they would continue on in the cabin.

custom painted mailbox, wikimedia commons

custom painted mailbox, wikimedia commons

custom
custom is a tradition, the way things are always done.
The custom of eating dinner as a family at the dining room table is slowly fading away.
But if you have something that is custom-made, then it is built to your specifications.
His custom-made motorcycle grabbed the attention of every person who was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it.

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