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. to promote persistently
2. to criticize or beat
He flogged relentlessly to sell
The products he knew very well,
And he succeeded, we can tell,
For he and wife and kids now dwell
In that new mansion in the dell.
He called himself The Whaler, and
He was much feared throughout our land.
I laughed at him—called him a nut—
And then he really flogged my butt.
He was my 8th grade teacher, see:
Because I laughed, he whaled on me.