Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sound and Sense, 15

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.

left verb
1. remained
2. departed

And when the others simply left,
He felt so thoroughly bereft
That he had thoughts so far from kind:
“And once again I’m left behind!”
He thought, “Revenge! I'll bait a trap!”
But first he thought he’d take a nap.
But while he napped—well, while he tried
His heart surrendered—he had died.
The moral of this tawdry tale?
Make quick revenge—or you may fail.

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