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. to connect
2. to break or collapse
His buckled, tightly, his new belt—
And this is kind of what he felt:
He wished he’d bought a larger size:
His gut his smaller belt defies.
’Twas time to diet (to endure).
He’d start … tomorrow … that’s for sure.
He walked across the fragile bridge—
And dreamed of his capacious fridge.
Oh, my, the treats that waited there—
Especially that rich éclair!
Oh, all that food seemed heaven-sent.
The bridge then buckled—down he went.
A grieving friend wrote such a song:
“Don’t Put Your Diet Off Too Long.”