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Are there (m)any Chinese words that are their own antonyms? Similar to English "terrific", "wicked", etc. (which originally had negative meanings and now have positive meanings).

I imagine that as Chinese words are so heavily tied to their etymology (and the meaning of the characters used to write them), "auto-antonyms" would be rare???

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's sometimes refered to in the traditional scholarship as '反训.' 钱锺书 has an extensive discussion of it in his 《管锥编·周易正义·论易之三名》.

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Nice to know there's a term for it. There is a bit about it here – jsj Feb 23 '12 at 7:00

Not sure if this is exactly what you're asking, but 厉害 (li4hai) can have both a good or bad meaning depending on the context. For example, if a student says a teacher is li4hai they probably mean strict. If you do something and demonstrate great ability, someone might say, "Wow! You're really li4hai!"

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Yes there are a lot, very often it depends on the context and how you say it (like the tone).

For example: 讨厌 means dislike, but can mean like some times, such as in: 真是个小讨厌 (used wen describing my little noisy baby but means I really like my baby, not dislike).

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