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.
“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!”