Five-Minute Writing Tip
Is Brad Pitt Flammable or Inflammable? Same or Different Meanings
In the previous Five-Minute Writing Tip, I wrote about words that can be their own opposites. This Tip is about words with apparently opposite meanings, and words that when used in certain ways can have the same meaning as their opposites. Stick with me, here.
Here are a few to consider:
Rut and groove. A rut is a deep track made by wheels and is often used to describe a negative situation:
EX: I’ve been stuck in a writing rut for so long, even Jane Austen couldn’t pull me out.
A groove is a narrow cut made in a hard surface. Being in a groove means you’re getting along nicely:
EX: I’m in a creative groove, having written 10,000 words each day for the last month.
A slim chance and fat chance mean the same thing. I have a slim chance of winning the lottery.
Fat chance I’ll ever win the lottery.
Flammable and inflammable both mean easily set on fire.
EX: Certain amounts of inflammable liquids are not allowed in your carry-on luggage.
EX: Hairspray is flammable, but if you store it in a container less than 3.4 ounces, you are allowed to take it in your carry-on luggage.
Regardless means despite the current situation. Regardless of the rain, I’m hiking the mountain trail.
Note: Irregardless is often used in place of regardless, but it makes me cringe because it is not in the dictionary and it just sounds wrong:
EX: Irregardless of the rain, I’m hiking the mountain trail.
Bad is also an example of a word that can be used in an opposite way.
EX: The bad (evil) bully harassed the smaller kids.
EX: Brad Pitt is so bad.” [slang expression meaning he’s really good]
Note: You could also say: Brad Pitt is so hot [meaning he is so cool]!