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I was thinking about the word "dust" as I was cleaning my house today. When I dust the house, I am removing the dust from the furniture. Yet, last week, I dusted my rolling pin with flour before making a pie crust. In this sense, dust meant to add dust.

There must be more words like this, that have two opposite meanings. And there must be a word for this type of word! Can you help me?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Morgan:
There must be more words like this, that have two opposite meanings. And there must be a word for this type of word! Can you help me?


"Contranym" is the word I've seen for this, though I can't find it in the AHD or M-H Collegiate. I did find it on the web, though:

http://www.scrabble-assoc.com/schools/act/20011116.html

(Note: "Garnish" is defined as "to deduct from wages" on this site. The correct word is "garnishee".)


http://www.cs.caltech.edu/~adam/CLEVER/clever1

In his 1989 book Crazy English, Richard Lederer calls such words contranyms and lists more than 35, although some are phrases instead of words. These can be divided into homographs (same spelling) and homophones (same pronunciation).

A partial list of homographs:
bill = invoice, money
cleave = to separate, to join
clip = cut apart, fasten together
dust = to remove, add fine particles
fast = rapid, unmoving
literally = actually, figuratively
moot = debatable, not needing to be debated (already decided)
note = promise to pay, money
oversight = care, error
peep = look quietly, beep
peer = noble, companion
put = lay, throw
puzzle = pose problem, solve problem
ravel = entangle, disentangle
resign = to quit, to sign up again
sanction = to approve of, to punish
sanguine = murderous, optimistic
scan = to examine closely, to glance at quickly
set = fix, flow
skin = to cover with, remove outer covering
temper = calmness, passion
trim = cut things off, put things on

A very short list of homophones:
aural, oral = heard, spoken
raise, raze = erect, tear down

This site lists "literally" as having the opposite meanings of "actually" or "figuratively". "Literally" does not mean "figuratively", though it is often incorrectly used that way. (See the Usage Note at www.dictionary.com)

There's a lot more to this site, if you're interested.

Tinman

[This message was edited by tinman on Sun Oct 27th, 2002 at 22:13.]
 
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I disagree with several on this list, but especially with
quote:
moot = debatable, not needing to be debated (already decided)
Moot as an adjective does not mean "already decided". It means "debatable". The fact that some people are under an erroneous impression of its meaning does not make any difference.
 
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Tinman, you say that:

"Garnish" is defined as "to deduct from one's wages" on this site but that the correct word is "garnishee."

I've always heard "garnish" used as that site defined it with "garnishee" as being the person whose wages were docked. Yes? No?
 
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Arnie, I'm going to have to disagree with you in part where you say, "Moot as an adjective does not mean 'already decided'. It means 'debatable'."

My understanding is that (at least among us lawyers) it means "unnecessary to decide; merely hypothetical". For example, we'll say that if a court has dismissed a plaintiff's claim for one reason, then other possible reasons to dismiss it have become moot. Or similarly: if I am considering quitting my job, that issue becomes moot if my employer goes bankrupt and fires all employees.

Edit: I just checked Bartleby, and found that it has a usage note. Apparently your meaning is the original meaning, arnie, but the my meaning has a provenance of about 150 years, and is considered a proper altermative meaning by a goodly majority of AHD's Usage panel. The dictionary portion defines "moot", as adjective, with both meanings.
 
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P.S. Arnie, Tinman was quoting Lederer's site, and given that source, you could understand why it was (as you said) somewhat accurate!
 
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CJ says: "I've always heard "garnish" used as that site defined it with "garnishee" as being the person whose wages were docked. Yes? No? "

I say Yes. When I did payroll for our company, I had to take care of the orders to "garnish" an employees wages and send the money to the "garnisher" for the "garnishee". Poor guys. frown
 
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Just as further data, Shufitz, my AHD has one definition of moot as, "Without legal significance, through having been previously decided or settled". However, the discussion has been enlightening. "To bring up for discussion or debate" seems to be the definition of choice. Yet, we often see it used to mean, "already been decided".

Morgan, one of my favorite phrases of irritation is, "That dusts my doilies!"--though I have never been able to find its derivation.
 
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Originally posted by C J Strolin:
I've always heard "garnish" used as that site defined it with "garnishee" as being the person whose wages were docked. Yes? No?


CJ,

This is the third time I’ve attempted to post this reply. Let’s hope it works this time.

The verb “garnishee” means to attach a person’s wages by means of garnishment. “Garnish” refers to embellishing or decorating food or drink. That’s the way I learned it.

The noun “garnishee” refers to the person whose wages are being attached. I didn’t know this until recently.

“Garnish” (v.) also means “garnishee” (v.). So which came first? I assumed that “garnish” was incorrectly used for “garnishee”, since that was what I was taught. However, the OED (www.dictionary.oed) cites the first use of “garnish” in this sense in 1577 and of “garnishee” in 1892. It cites the noun “garnishee” as first being used in 1627, with the verb being derived from it.

Both the AHD (www.dictionary.com) and M-WCD (www.m-w.com) define “garnish”, in part, as meaning “garnishee”, but do not define “garnishee” as meaning “garnish”. That indicates to me that “garnishee” is the preferred word and “garnish” is no longer correctly used in that sense – at least in the U.S.

I don't know about you, but I've managed to confuse myself. If anyone has the "definitive answer" to the "correct" use of "garnish" and "garnishee" (if there is one), please let me know. Otherwise I'll stick with what I know (or think I know).

Tinman
 
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I also did some digging (as I should have in the first place instead of taking the lazy way out by simply asking Wordcrafty experts) and found that you are completely correct. The fact that you also may be completely confused is totally understandable.

Added note: "garnish," as a noun, also shows up as "an unauthorized fee extorted from a new inmate of an English jail" or, by extension, "a similar payment required of a new worker." Hadn't heard either of those and have no idea why English inmates should be specifically subjected to this fee.

In the future, every time I hear that someone's wages were garnished, I'm sure a picture will come to mind of that person's most recent paycheck including little bits of parsley or lemon wedges. Ah, the vagaries of the English language!!

(Unrelated sidenote: "VER-R-R-R-R-RY" contains 9 letters with 6 R's but comes under the "No 'Ooooof!' or 'Ahaaa!'" rule.)
 
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Yes, I agree, the above discussion is interesting.
However, I want to go back to moot for a moment. A fellow logophile tells me that, while he didn't have the exact source at his fingertips, way back it had a root similar to meet. The Volksgemoot, or something similar, was a gathering of all heads of households to discuss public affairs. He says that when we use moot now, therefore, it means that it was discussed previously and no further discussion is necessary. Has anyone hear heard of that?
 
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Carrying this back farther, in line with Kalleh's "Volksgemoot"

Etymology on-line says, "moot - O.E. gemot "meeting" (to discuss community affairs or justice), from P.Gmc. *ga-motan. Meaning of "hypothetical" began in law student jargon, 1531, when students would gather to discuss hypothetical cases."
 
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Okay, Arnie, now I see your perspective on "moot", after reading the World Wide Words' discussion. It may, indeed, not be used correctly today.
And I thought we had you this time!
 
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citation ~~ An award or a summons.

impregnable ~~ Unconquerable or capable of being impregnated.

seed ~~ To spread seeds or to remove seeds
 
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The prefix be- has two opposite meanings.

Its usual meaning is "to put on" (bejewel; beribbon), but
it sometimes means "to take off" (behead).
 
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Ahhh! Remember my "de..." thread, way back when? Sometimes "de" can mean to remove, such as "delouse"; other times it can mean derived from that, such as "delight".
 
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I found some more words with oposite meanings, but alot of them depend upon which side of the Atlantic you are on:

on the job
In the U.S., it means doing your work.
In England, it means having sex -- for most people, not your work.

bomb
In the U.S., a great failure.
In Britain, a great success.

enjoin
In the U.S., to prohibit.
In Britain, to require.

table
In the U.S., tabling a motion means suspending consideration of it.
In England, it means putting it to a vote.
 
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One of my favorite columnists is James J. Kilpatrick, as I've said many times before. A few weeks ago his column included a discussion on moot. Here's what he said:

"Mike Canestaro of Endicott, N.Y., asks the court for an injunction against the misuse of 'moot.' In his view, the adjective should be restored to its pristine meaning of 'debatable, undecided.' Trouble is, 'moot' began losing its virginity a century ago. Logomachist Bryan Garner comments in 'Modern American Usage' that the old usage has been overtaken by an almost opposite meaning. These days, a moot point is no longer debatable. It's not worth debating; it's become academic; it has no practical significance.

"The court rues the rusting away of the old meaning of 'moot,' but refuses to take a pessimistic recess. April is icumen in, lhude sing cuccu!"

I don't expect this to change anyone's opinion, but I found it interesting and thought you might, too. I don't know what the last sentence means. I can guess the first part is "April is coming in ..." but have no idea about the last part. Anyone care to translate?

Tinman
 
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Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu.
Sing, cuccu!


Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu
Bulloc sterteth, bucke ferteth.
Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu.
Ne swik thu naver nu!


Sing cuccu nu, sing cuccu!
Sing cuccu nu, sing cuccu!
-Anonymous (c. 1260)

Summer is coming in,
Loudly sing cuckoo!
Groweth seed and bloometh mead
And springs the wood now.
Sing cuckoo!

Ewe bleats after lamb,
Lows after calf the cow,
Bullock starts, buck farts;
Merrily sing cuckoo!
Cuckoo! cuckoo!
Well sing thou cuckoo.
Cease thou never now!

Sing cuckoo now, Sing cuckoo!
Sing cuckoo, Sing cuckoo now!


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Not 'is coming' but 'has come'. The i- -en is the past participle marker, remnant of Old English ge- -en. As in German, some verbs (typically of motion) formerly took 'to be' as their auxiliary, and we can still say 'it is come' for more usual 'it has come'; cf. German ist gekommen.
 
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I do use "moot" more carefully these days, since this thread. In fact, whenever I hear the word "moot," I always think of arnie! Wink
 
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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu
!

Summer is coming in,
Loudly sing cuckoo
!


Thanks, Bob.

Tinman
 
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Bob,
That was wonderful..

Summer is coming, and I'm crazy.. I knew it.
 
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It was nothing...

...er, hang on! It really was nothing! I think perhaps you meant to thank arnie who posted the translation,not me.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: BobHale,
 
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Bob,
I'm thanking you anyway for correcting me..

Thanks, Arnie!!
 
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Originally posted by BobHale:
It was nothing...

...er, hang on! It really was nothing! I think perhaps you meant to thank arnie who posted the translation,not me.

Oops! Thanks, arnie, for the translation, and Bob for pointing out my mistake.

Tinman
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Morgan:
... table
In the U.S., tabling a motion means suspending consideration of it.
In England, it means putting it to a vote.

Far too late to correct Morgan, alas, but over here 'to table' means to move to consider a topic. Usually this is done when the item is not on the agenda and is often done for urgent business. See Wikipedia.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Intersting, arnie, because it means the opposite here.

This was a fun thread to review...lot's of people from our past.
 
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BTW, Kalleh, when your doilies are dusted, does that mean that they have dust added (as with a sugar duster) or taken away (as with a feather duster)? Cool Confused


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Ah, well. That's one no one ever figured out. I asked it here and on another board.
 
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