June 15th, 2011


I came upon these recently. In Mary Shelley’s «Frankenstein» there are a couple of instances of the word “film” used in phrases like “to have a film before one’s eyes”, meaning that a film had kept one from seeing. Then in Arthur C. Clarke’s «The City and the Stars» he speaks of “vision screens”, which implies that the meaning of “screen” as a barrier that hides what is behind it from vision was still very strong in his mind. In the meantime both words have come to mean – clearly though not exclusively – objects that convey vision, thus becoming carriers of two contradicting meanings. Obviously there are more words like those around, but can you think of some that became autoantonyms due to technological innovation?