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.

WordMeaning #1Meaning #2
Cleaveto divide by or as if by a cutting blowto adhere firmly together
Dustto make free of dustto sprinkle with fine particles
Overlookto look past, to missto look over e.g. inspect
Rocksomething like a rock in firmnessswaying or tilting movement
Sanctionto give effective or authoritative approvalconsent to or coercive measure intended to discourage
Screento conceal from viewto display (e.g. screen a film)
OversightWatchful and responsible careAn inadvertent omission or error
Fastfirmly fixedmoving or able to move rapidly

The Arabic term for Janus words is al-ad`daad الاضداد.

WordTransliterationMeaning #1Meaning #2
جَزَاءُjazāuto rewardto requite or punish
بَشِّرِbashirigood newswarning
غَلَبِghalabprevalentdefeated
دَاخِرُونَdākhirūnaforciblywillingly
أُمَّةًummatana leader, vanguard (a single person)a congregation, community, nation (a group)
فَاسْتَعْصَمَfa-is’taʿṣamahold fastabstain

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.

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