One Of The Problems With The English Language: The Same Word Having Opposite Meanings

As observed in this VC post, contranyms should be avoided,

[T]he Court has sanctioned the use of speech as evidence in establishing that ….

Is that “sanctioned” in the sense of “approved” or in the sense of “punished” (a common use of the term “sanction” in litigation)? The reader should be able to figure this out from context, but it’s usually better not to put the reader to the work of having to do that, or risk even briefly leading the reader in the wrong direction.

A word I have always found vexing in the military context is “secure.”


When used as a verb, to cause to be firmly attached: Secure your gear before leaving the area.

Also when used as a verb, to be excused from duty:  The platoon is secured when the weapons count is complete.

Why would the same word mean to affix and to set free?

yojoe (in language mode) out

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