Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sound and Sense, 22

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.

1. a problem (noun)
2. to solve one (verb, often with out)

She puzzled out the answer when
She saw the bill from where he’d been—
Oh, he’ll not fool his wife again!

We’d thought it was a puzzle—pick
A creep like him to marry! Sick!
A bod like dough, a brain like brick.

But “love is blind,” or so they say,
So it required that fateful day
For her to come to think the way

Her cheating spouse deserved. And so
She ditched him—locked him out, and, yo,
He got the message—had to go.

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