Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sound and Sense, 25

Our English dictionary has in it many words whose sounds and meanings can … confuse. In this next series of doggerel, I’ll be writing about several sorts of such words.
The first—the contronym: a word, says the Oxford English Dictionary, that has “two opposite or contradictory meanings.”
Earliest published use: 1962.

screen verb
1. to present
2. to conceal

They all agreed that they should screen
Employees with complexions green:

They could be Martians (at the least)—
Or prehistoric sort of beast?

But Rex was clever, and he screened
His foul intents—until he gleaned

What their routines were really for.
And then he rose, began to roar.

“Why would they hire a T Rex, dude?
No wonder all of them got chewed!”

So said the guy from the museum—
Who fondly named the T Rex Liam.

And traveled with him, coast to coast,
Made lots of bucks, enjoyed each toast

That came with his celebrity.
Then Liam ate him (with chablis).

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