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Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

(OP)

I was having a conversation this morning about how good a job our brain does at presenting us with the right words for the context of a sentence - even if those words are slightly mis-spelled.

The word that started it all off was the intentional mis-spelling of the word 'imperial' as 'imerpial' in the signature of a player in the web-based trading game Pardus. No-one noticed the typo, and it was in place for some time (intentionally). My response was that all the other users could be dyselxic, which was quite amusing as the intentional typo in the word 'dyslexic' was missed by some (their brains simply filled in the right word for the context, thus proving my point).

This got me thinking... If there were two words that looked almost identical when spelled out, but that meant very opposite things, this could lead to all sorts of mischief if our brains told us we were looking at the wrong word given the context. For example, it wouldn't be hard for some unscrupulous wheeler-dealer shady business types to put together a contract that was completely in their favour but we thought it was fine due to reading something that was never actually there.

I don't know of any such words, but can anyone else think of any?

Dan

Coedit Limited - Delivering standards compliant, accessible web solutions

@ Code Couch: http://www.codecouch.com/dan/

@ Twitter: http://twitter.com/SleepyDrunkDan

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

There are many examples contradicting this theory, only start and end letters of words need to be correct to oversee the scrambling of letters inbetween, for example:

Bhagrna wuokort is a swetay ftsnies coeeitlabrn.

Here's what a Cambridge professors says about this: http://profesorbaker.com/2011/03/27/meet-dr-matt-d...

It's nonetheless not totally wrong, that errors in typing/writing of words are correctable by a reader and astonishing how far that goes. There is redundancy in the way words are written in their spelling and pronounciation so you'll know the right word from the context. Language is verbose.

Even if there were such words you searhc, there's still the question, if the contract signer really reads the words in favour of him. There are far easier ways of tricking someone to feel a contract is just fair: Legal writing.

I nevertheless won't discourage others to help you find such an example, it's a fine puzzle for this forum, for sure. I can't think of one, too. Good luck!

Bye, Olaf.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

What bugs me much more is the wrong usage of words that are spelled differently, sound practically the same but mean totally different things.
Like the misuse of it's/its, then/than, your/you're, have/of (would of *argh*), etc.
I'm pretty sure there is a lengthy thread on this in most any English language-related forum.

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” (Kofi Annan)
Oppose SOPA, PIPA, ACTA; measures to curb freedom of information under whatever name whatsoever.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

How about "Last"

1. It will last a long time
2. It is the last one.

OK not exactly antonymous but close.

Of course 3. Cobbler's last.

Aspiring to mediocrity since 1957

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

boned - having bones
boned - bones removed (e.g. of fish)

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

To dust (applying dust for fingerprints)
To dust (removing dust from furniture)

Have fun.

---- Andy

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

(OP)

"Dust", "last", and "boned" are 3 good examples of one word that has two opposing meanings.

I'm looking for two words that are similar in spelling and that have opposite(ish) meanings, not one word...

Good answers, though smile

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

You mean like
light<->night
?

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” (Kofi Annan)
Oppose SOPA, PIPA, ACTA; measures to curb freedom of information under whatever name whatsoever.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

unite and untie?

soi là, soi carré

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

How about

warrantee - one who is protected by a guarantee
warranty - the guarantee itself ..

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

At a push, shied (fling or throw) and shield (protect)?

soi là, soi carré

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

imminent - likely to occur at any moment
eminent - outstanding or of high rank

Skip,

glassesJust traded in my old subtlety...
for a NUANCE!tongue

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

Omnipotent - all powerful
Impotent - need I say more?

Aspiring to mediocrity since 1957

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?


Reminds me of the guy on his way to his prostatectomy, dressed to the nines, like a significant diplomat, who explained to his puzzeled friend, "If I'm gonna BE impotent, I wants to LOOK impotent!"

Skip,

glassesJust traded in my old subtlety...
for a NUANCE!tongue

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

accept vs except
ail vs ale (The one who forgets the ale will ail.)
heir vs air
compliment vs complement
elicit vs illicit
raise vs raze
here vs hear
lesson vs lessen
great vs grate
sore vs soar

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RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

...and isn't it funny that bullocks are so called because they have no b0ll0cks? bull

Aspiring to mediocrity since 1957

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

"It's raining hard"

"It's hardly raining"

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

Just remember, if life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic.

bigsmile

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

I think Sam rather meant two words written with (allmost, better exact) the same letters in them, so you can apply the scrambling of letters (despite starting and ending letter which also need to match in the two words) like in the examples given in the initial post.

1. imperial vs imerpial
2. dyslexic vs dyselxic

Just so, that the second word also exists, is meaning the opposite and instead of using either one word you would use a third scrambled wrongly spelled version, which the mind of a reader would interpret as either the one or the other word.

So to put it technical, assume AbcdeF and AedcbF would be two valid words, you could write AcbedF and it's up to the reader, whether he interprets that third spelling as AbcdeF or AedcbF. It's still beyond me to find an example like that.

Otherwise it's easier to come up with some similar spelled or pronounced words with differing meainings, of course.

chair, Cher
loose, lose
bye, buy
rain, reign
ruin, urine
...

Bye, Olaf.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

I think I have a good example as this one always throws me when I read it.

Ingenuous vs. Ingenious

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?


The king took the horse's rein during his reign in the rain; no strain.

Skip,

glassesJust traded in my old subtlety...
for a NUANCE!tongue

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

If intentional, Ingenuous can be pronounced to sound like Ingenious as well

Written it can be biased by adjectives

That is an absolutlely incredible ingenuous idea.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

In the dust, boned, and last category:

Fast as in moving rapidly.
Fast as in stuck firmly.

Nice as a particular point.
Nice as a general approval.

Flats are tall buildings.
Flats are plane surfaces or level plains.

Wicked is very good.
Wicked is very bad.

But ambiguity of:

The plane flew over the wood. - forestry aviator - which requires some vertical separation.

The plane flew over the wood. - expert joiner - which requires continuous contact.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

warrantee - a person or party who is guaranteed something
warranty - the guarantee itself

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

Fiancé, Financier.

Women, watch out, who's standing next to your at your wedding. The latter would perhaps be the better choice.

Bye, Olaf.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

I've seen these recently misused on a website: break and brake.

James P. Cottingham
I'm number 1,229!
I'm number 1,229!

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

Had to read this one a couple of times today because my mind substituted the wrong word.

Not opposites per-se but definitly not in the same region of meaning.

Opimium Society

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Are there any words that look almost identical when spelled out, but that mean opposite things?

flaunt, flout, flounce

To show off, or exhibit oneself in a provocative or ostentatious display.
vs.
To disregard or show contempt for a rule or convention.
vs.
To exit in an exaggerated and often agitated display of displeasure. (There is also a separate noun - flounce - which is a gathered frill or pleated decoration at the edge of a piece of fabric instead of a plain hem.)

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