Top 10 English Words that are Considered "Contronyms"

A contronym (also known as an auto-antonym, contranym, antagonym, or a Janus word) is a word in which meanings contradict each other. What's interesting about them is that contronyms are rare in the English language, and contradictory meanings are often coined under sarcastic contexts. You may not realize it but you have been using contronyms in your whole life. This list features some of them, and yet, be prepared to see some words you haven't realized are actually contronyms.
The Top Ten
1 Flank

You'll typically see or hear this word spoken in certain video games - mostly when it comes to offensive tactics. This not only means to attack the sides of something, but it also means to defend the sides from attackers.

2 Trying

This word may be probably unexpected out of the other words, but apparently, trying is also considered an adjective which means stressful to go through or endure. The verb on the other hand, is typically used for making an effort to overcome difficult situations.

3 Egregious

If you want to describe something that's so bad you don't have the proper word for it, the word "egregious" is your friend. In an archaic sense, egregious apparently means something that's excellent. Funny how the word roots from Latin with the same positive meaning but somehow ends up used in the opposite way in English.

4 Brainstorm

You may have heard this word sometime in your life, and it's typically used positively when you suddenly find an idea that you think is original. The word "brainstorm" also has an opposite meaning - which is a state of a sudden scrambled mind.

5 Sick

Obviously one of the most used contronyms out of the list. Sick can be used to refer something that's considered bad, but in informal contexts it's used to describe something spectacular.

6 Peruse

Peruse typically means to inspect something in a careful manner, but in informal contexts it means to skim over something, as if you're quickly scanning a page.

7 Dust

For the verb, the word "dust" could either mean to sprinkle "dust" or powder on something, or to remove dust from something.

8 Bomb

In British slang, bomb is used to describe something successful. But another slang has an opposite meaning which describes something that ends up in a failure.

Would you say that the word literally has become one?

9 Hardly

This is another common adverb which also is considered a contronym that most people don't know of. Usually it means to barely do something or do something with difficulty, but in an archaic sense, it means to do something in a harsh manner

10 Left

Yet another everyday word which both means to remain (as an adjective) or to leave (as a verb).

The Contenders
11 Critical

Critical can either mean something important or something unstable

12 Coerce

Either meaning to restrain someone by force or to use force against someone from something.

13 Custom

Either meaning in a normal manner or something that is meant for special purposes

14 Annual

Happening once every year, but happening for only a year in other meanings

15 Awful

Usually means very bad but rarely it can mean impressive or spectacular

16 Bad

Much like awful, but in slang this means cool.

17 Hack

In slangs it could either mean a convenient or inconvenient/imprecise solution to something

18 Scan

Scanning could either mean to inspect something with detail or to look on something quickly.

19 Factoid

Factoid can be another word for misconception, yet can be also a small (yet often true) fact.

20 Aught
21 Bolt

Meaning to connect something with a bolt or flee from something

22 Off

The fire alarm went off so we had to shut it off.

23 Fine

Fine as an adjective generally means impressive but in an ironic sense it can mean bad or poor

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