The Antonym Puzzler... Explained
RAY: Ha! We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and the new Puzzler.
TOM: I can hardly wait. You said this was like a season-ending thing?
RAY: This is season-ending, but never-ending.
TOM: Ahh! Because you don't know the answer!
RAY: Well, you'll see that there isn't one answer, necessarily.
TOM: Oh! That's very good!
RAY: Well, I don't know about very good, but it's different.
TOM: So, thousands of people could win.
RAY: I've known this Puzzler for years, and I used to know one of the answers to it. But I believe there's more than one answer. There may be many. There may be hundreds, and you, our listeners, will find that out. And I was reminded of it recently when I received an e-mail from a guy named Claude Warren from...I don't know...who the hell knows where he comes from.
RAY: He says, as you probably know, there are words that are opposites and they're called antonyms; for example, hot and cold, up and down, Click and Clack. Even spelled antonyms out phonetically for us, in case we were complete...
TOM: Too stupid.
RAY: Complete dimwits.
TOM: Yeah, well what would make him think that?
RAY: He says, can you think of two words that are their own antonyms? Well, I've known these two words for a long time.
TOM: The two are easy. The two are easy.
RAY: Well, they ain't that easy, and I don't think the vast majority of people would come up with even these two. But I'm going to give you these two, because I know there are more. The first one is cleave. I'll give you a sentence: You cleave things apart with a cleaver...meat cleaver; or, Your lug nuts may cleave to your studs, making them impossible to remove without a very hot torch. Right?
RAY: So, cleave means to...
TOM: The cleavage you are looking at...No, no, never mind. I'll leave that part out.
RAY: Oh, God.
TOM: Are we in trouble again? Yeah. I know.
RAY: It's always you! The other word is sanction.
RAY: And here's a sentence that Claude Warren gave to us: NASCAR sanctions stock-car races, but a driver who runs another into a wall may be sanctioned by NASCAR.
RAY: It's clear that in these two instances, cleave has two meanings which are diametrically opposed, and so does sanction. The question very simply is: Are there other words like this?
TOM: And, if there are, what are they?
[ Car Talk Puzzler ]