Today’s contronym is buckle, which turns out to have several definitions and more than one pair of opposites.
Buckle - to fasten, hold together, connect
Every time Jimmy’s mom caught him with his pants hanging past his butt, she made him buckle them with her bedazzled belt as punishment.
~ or ~
Buckle - to collapse, fall apart, break
Simone sat in Blake’s lap to seduce him, but the chair buckled underneath them – emergency room visits were not sexy.
~ and ~
Buckle - to apply oneself with vigor
Emma’s dad made a flippant promise to buy her a car if she got straight A’s her senior year, so she buckled down and studied for the first time in her life, completely shocking him and his bank account.
~ or ~
Buckle - to give way, yield
When the crisis started, the boss buckled and hid under his desk, leaving his assistant to prove she was always the brains behind his success.
In both of these pairs, one definition is about strength and one is about weakness. In the first pair, it’s about physical power, whereas the second pair is about internal fortitude. I wonder if there’s a term for a contronym with multiple opposing definitions. I say we make up our own – how about über-contronymy or extra-contronymized?
Are you familiar with contronyms? There are other ‘B’ contronyms out there, can you think of any? Any naming suggestions for contronyms with multiple opposing pairs? How Beautiful is Bailey with her letter B?
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