The top ten: Words with opposite meanings
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 06 April 2014
Following the Top 10 words that used to mean the opposite – words which had changed meaning over time, such as awful, presently and humbled – Stryker McGuire suggested I compile a list of words that can mean one thing and its opposite in contemporary English...
1. Public school Nominated by someone called MiniDiscsReturn.
2. Oversight Suggested by Alison Graham.
3. Buckle Nominated by Nick Reid.
4. Sanction To approve or to disapprove. From Stryker McGuire.
5. Cleave To split or to stick to. Apparently from different Old English roots. Nominated by Arieh Kovler.
6. Literally Thanks to Hopi Sen.
7. Fast Moving fast or stuck fast. From Edmund W.
8. Quite Not much or absolutely. Suggested by Alan Beattie, Hugh Kellett and Robert Hanks.
9. Qualified Means both falling short and meeting requirements. From Adrian Hilton.
10. Interesting Meaning either interesting or a stupid idea.
Next week: Last sentences in novels.
Coming soon: Malapropisms. Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to email@example.com
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Why do we like making lists?
Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
Glastonbury 2015 registration: How to get tickets for next year's festival
Kylie Minogue Kiss Me Once tour, London O2 - review: Pop princess still reigns supreme
Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican named highest-selling female comedians
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >