Bujold invents new word: antagonym

/ 4 October 2010

Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my all-time favorite authors, and in her blog she’s just invented a word I think I can use in lots of contexts: antagonym. Here’s the definitiion:

We are all familiar with these useful terms for words: synonym, for words which mean roughly the same thing; antonym, for words which mean opposite things; and homonym, for two words which sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things.

It seems to me we need one more: a term for when a word with the same spelling, sound, and dictionary entry is deployed by two sides in a debate or argument, and each person is, unsuspected the other, using a completely different definition for it.</blockquote>

(If you've never read any of her books, start with the Curse of Chalion)