Nehama (med_cat) wrote in 1word1day,
Nehama
med_cat
1word1day

Friday word: Sanction

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, 'Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression' or does it mean, 'Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default'? We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of “contronyms”—words that are their own antonyms.

1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean ‘give official permission or approval for (an action)’ or conversely, ‘impose a penalty on.’

Read about 24 more such words here: 25 words that are their own opposites, from Mental Floss
Tags: latin, noun, s, wordsmith: med_cat
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