Monday, June 20, 2016

Sound and Sense, 16

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.

mean adj.
1. average
2. excellent

“The mean,” she said, “on your last test
Was hardly much above the last.
Next week, dear class, please bring your best—
If you expect, that is, to pass.”
"But I did well," said Studious Sam.
“I know what education’s for.
A studier—that’s what I am—
That’s how I got a real mean score!”

No comments:

Post a Comment