Monday, June 13, 2016

Sound and Sense, 9

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.

dust verb

1. to add fine particles.
2. to remove fine particles.

The time has come—I really must
Set time aside to clean and dust.
Upon our furniture—a crust.


The breadboard you should lightly dust
With flour. Otherwise the dough
Will stick, your bread be less robust,
And you’ll be like that bird from Poe:

Your baking will be such a chore,
And you’ll be croaking, “Nevermore!”

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