Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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???

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers 3

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》.

share|improve this answer
    
Nice to know there's a term for it. There is a bit about it here zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%AE%AD%E8%AF%82%E5%AD%A6 –  trideceth12 Feb 23 '12 at 7:00
add comment

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).

share|improve this answer
add comment

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!"

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.