Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sound and Sense, 17

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.

off adj.
1. deactivated
2. activated (as an alarm)

I thought I turned the dumb thing off—
Was positive I did.
But when the fire alarm went off,
I simply ran and hid.

My boss, of course, knew where I hid—
And found me soon enough,
“I told you: ‘Turn the damn thing off!’”
I thought he sounded … gruff.

I cried and whimpered, made excuse—
My usual display.
But he was angry—burning up—
And fired me anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment