Have you ever noticed that several language arts terms have the letters o-n-y-m in them? I’m talking about words like synonym, antonym, homonym, heteronym, acronym, etc. Of course, the list goes on, but here’s what you need to know about all of these words:
Onym is actually a Greek root word that means “name.” So, in context, when you see a word with this root, you can conclude that it names something; you just have to figure out what!
Most 1st -8th grade curriculums purposefully teach students about synonyms and antonyms as a way to (a.) increase their vocabulary, (b.) improve their reading comprehension, and (c.) learn effective strategies to improve and expand their writing. These two categories are not only imperative to learn about concepts in other subject areas; they are also tested on the SAT and GRE.
A synonym is the name of the category of words that mean the same or almost the same thing. An example might include words like “intelligent” and “smart.” An Antonym, on the other hand, is the name of the category of words that have opposite meanings like “hot” and “cold. “
The purpose of this blog is not to define every onym word for you, so allow me to fast forward to my big ah-ha moment…
As I continued to review the list of language arts related onym words, I stumbled on one that intrigued me: contronyms. As a teacher, I had never taught this term much less required my students to learn about them or identify them in a sentence. That’s why I’m sharing them now!
A contronym is the name of a category of words that are spelled the same and pronounced the same yet are opposite in meaning. They are described as words that are their own antonyms. To further explain, let’s use the contronym “bill” as an example.
Description: You can have a $50 bill in your pocket, or you can receive a $50 bill for some sort of service you obtained.
Explanation: In the first example, “bill” means a piece of paper money; a $50 credit. In the second example, “bill” refers to an invoice you receive that tells you how much money you owe. In other words, it means that you have a $50 debt. Bill and bill are contronyms.
Rational: Even though the word “bill” looks the same and sounds the same in both sentences, it means the exact opposite in each. Bill describes money you can spend in the first example, while bill describes a debt that you owe in the second one.
You can give your students the knowledge, skills, and practice they need to know and use contronyms, starting with the list of contronyms below: