A few weeks ago in Five-Minute Writing Tip #32, I wrote about words that can be their own opposites. Today’s tip is about words with apparently opposite meanings, and words that when used in certain ways can have the same meaning as their opposites.
Here are a few to consider:
A rut is a deep track made by wheels and is often used to describe a negative situation.
“I’ve been stuck in a writing rut for so long, even Jane Austen couldn’t pull me out.”
A groove is a narrow cut made in a hard surface. Being in a groove means you’re getting along nicely.
“I’m in a creative groove, having written 10,000 words each day for the last month.”
A slim chance and fat chance mean the same thing.
“I have a slim chance of winning the lottery.”
“Fat chance I’ll ever win the lottery.”
Both flammable and inflammable mean easily set on fire.
“Certain amounts of inflammable liquids are not allowed in your carry-on luggage.”
“Hairspray is flammable, but if you store it in a container less than 3.4 ounces, you are allowed to take it in your carry-on luggage.”
Regardless means despite the current situation. For instance: “Regardless of the rain, I’m hiking the mountain trail.”
Irregardless makes me cringe because it is not in the dictionary and is often used in place of regardless. “Irregardless of the rain, I’m hiking the mountain trail.”
Bad is also an example of a word that could be used in an opposite way.
“The bad bully continued to harass the smaller kids.”
“Brad Pitt is so bad.” (Meaning he’s so good.) But you could also say Brad Pitt is so hot, meaning he is so cool.
Kathleen Kaska, Marketing Director