Find a pair of English words each of which can be a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb such that:

  • as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, they're opposite in meaning
  • as verbs, they have the same meaning

(I'm pretty sure the answer to this is unique.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are only so many possibilities $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Apr 29 '15 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ Ahah, I'm checking that list too, but I haven't found the pair...yet! $\endgroup$ – leoll2 Apr 29 '15 at 18:41

My answer is:

Best and Worst.


As verbs, they both mean to "get the better of" or "defeat" someone.
As nouns, adverbs, and adjectives, they are clearly opposite.


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've heard of besting somebody, but how does one worst them? $\endgroup$ – user88 Apr 29 '15 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. Same thing. Well done, Cubicon! I'll accept, and +1 when I can. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 29 '15 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, rand. Joe, I've added links to definitions from dictionary.reference.com. $\endgroup$ – Cubicon Apr 29 '15 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a usage of the words as verbs without suffixes? $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Apr 29 '15 at 20:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Cubicon I guess "I will worst you" just doesn't sound like a sentence to me. $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Apr 29 '15 at 21:07

I would say

Plump and Pat

As verbs
Both share the meaning of "to touch with hands"

As adverbs
Pat means "opportunely, appropriately", while Plump means "with a heavy fall". Not exact opposites, but a heavy fall is never appropriate!

As nouns
Pat means "a light stroke with the hand" while Plump means "an abrupt plunge". The pain is very different, you see!

As adjectives
Plump means "round, with smooth edges" and Pat means "too simple, unconvincing, rough". Rough and smooth are opposites!

  • $\begingroup$ Not really opposites (although different) as nouns, adverbs, or adjectives. Nice try though :-) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 29 '15 at 19:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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