General Question

ragingloli's avatar

Is there a term for a words that are written as antonyms, but function as synonyms?

Asked by ragingloli (46583points) August 13th, 2019

For example, the sci-fi terms “subspace” and “hyperspace”.
They should mean the opposite, but are clearly the same thing.

List some other examples.

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5 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Flammable and inflammable ?

canidmajor's avatar

Ravel and unravel.

Yellowdog's avatar

Unpealing an union.

You are actually pealing it.

@LuckyGuy Thanks for this example. I learned about this word when I was in High School in a radio broadcasting course. It is pretty damn clear what Flammable means—and Inflammable means the same thing—but some people confuse it with meaning “not-flammable” so the word is seldom if ever used. Getting this one wrong could lead to disastrous consequences.

Demosthenes's avatar

Great question! :)

Here are a few:

caretaker and caregiver mean the same thing.
inhabitable and habitable (the antonym of both of these is uninhabitable)
deprivation and privation

An example from slang:

to be up for something is the same as being down for it

I don’t know of a specific term for this phenomenon, though.

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