In English, Janus words are words that can mean one thing and its opposite, thus creating contradictory meanings. Other names for these kinds of words are also contronyms, auto-antonyms, or antagonyms. Examples of this for the English language are the following.
|Word||Meaning #1||Meaning #2|
|Cleave||to divide by or as if by a cutting blow||to adhere firmly together|
|Dust||to make free of dust||to sprinkle with fine particles|
|Overlook||to look past, to miss||to look over e.g. inspect|
|Rock||something like a rock in firmness||swaying or tilting movement|
|Sanction||to give effective or authoritative approval||consent to or coercive measure intended to discourage|
|Screen||to conceal from view||to display (e.g. screen a film)|
|Oversight||Watchful and responsible care||An inadvertent omission or error|
|Fast||firmly fixed||moving or able to move rapidly|
The Arabic term for Janus words is al-ad`daad الاضداد.
|Word||Transliteration||Meaning #1||Meaning #2|
|جَزَاءُ||jazāu||to reward||to requite or punish|
|أُمَّةً||ummatan||a leader, vanguard (a single person)||a congregation, community, nation (a group)|
In the Quran, determining which meaning to apply is typically determined by the context. With the examples given above, it is clear that one meaning is positive while the other meaning is negative. Therefore if the context is positive, then the positive meaning is applied, and if the meaning is negative, then the negative meaning is applied.