Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sound and Sense, 3

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.

bill  noun
1. Payment
2. Invoice

He said that he was feeling ill—
He needed bucks—a certain pill.
I checked my wallet—found a bill—
But not sufficient for old Phil.
“A five?! That’s really next to nil!”
I thought that he was somewhat shrill—
And told him it was time to chill.
And shoved him then right into Jill,
Who’d recently come up the hill
To fetch a pail of water—still!


My wireless bill seemed awfully high—
But I just paid it, willingly.
For I have now become a guy
Who loves to stream on his TV!

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