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.
2. stuck or made stable
The hare was certain he was fast,
So he was confident, of course,
When turtle planned the race. A blast,
He thought, I’ll have. But such remorse
The hare would feel at race’s end:
The turtle beat him! Can not be!
But it was true. I must pretend!
He feigned a limp—pathetically.
He swung on trees—he had a blast.
The next thing: He was in a cast.
He’d fallen—he was so aghast.
So fast at home he had to stay
On many a lovely summer day—
Oh, why do things just go this way!
But he recovered—back to trees
He went—he fell again. A sad reprise.
And this time fractured both his knees.