Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sound and Sense, 24

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.

sanction (verb)
1. to approve
2. to boycott

“I cannot sanction what you’ve done”—
So said the Judge that Judgment Day,
And I could only think, “Which one
Of that word’s meanings is in play?”

I found out later when I stepped
Inside the elevator. (Frown.)
For there I learned the secret kept:
Yes, all the buttons were for “Down.”

And when the elevator doors
Drew wide—it wasn’t all that neat.
For we had dropped so many floors—
And, oh, infernal, hellish HEAT!

No comments:

Post a Comment