Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sound and Sense, 18

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.

out adj.
1. visible, as with stars showing in the sky
2. invisible, in reference to lights

The moon was out; the stars were, too,
And he was thinking what to do.
Is this the night to pitch some woo?

He looked at her—but with some doubt.
She knew what he was all about,
And so his light of hope went out.

But then she slumped into his arms—
And he was stunned by all her charms.
He vowed he’d keep her from all harms.

And so he did, from then till now.
She loves him so (he wonders how).
Amazing what our loves allow.

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