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.
1. covered with skin
2. with the skin removed
Although the creature, greenly skinned,
Had gills, was very sharply finned,
He really made me laugh—and bend
With such delight and endless glee
That I just flat out failed to see
That he, now crazed, was stalking me.
He caught me—won’t pretend—
And quickly had me cleanly skinned,
And I don’t think that I will mend
Because—now that I think of it—
The creature's had a hunger fit,
And now I’m turning on a spit.