Ambinyms

Today’s language nerdification post concerns the English word overlook.

Overlook falls into a peculiar category of words which already have a name (several actually), but which I will now call ambinyms. These words can have opposite meanings depending on their usage.

Overlook word can mean either to fail to notice something or to have a view of something (from above). This stems mainly from the word over having the usages describing something that is stationed above, as well as something that is passing by above.

For a few more examples and a bit of etymological insight, check out this other blog. In fact, that blog has also listed oversee as an ambinym - a nearly identical word, which still does have different meanings.

Quite peculiar, indeed.