Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sound and Sense, 29

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.

throw out verb
1. to dispose of
2. to present for consideration

“At this important meeting we
Will throw out your ideas, so
That all of us can clearly see
Which ones are ‘stop’ and which are ‘go.’”

And I replied: “Those that are ‘stop’?
I hope you will not be too rash?”
“Oh no … but if they tend to flop?
We’ll throw them out with other trash.”

I did not find that comforting—
But what was I supposed to do?
This job is like a boxing ring—
And uppercuts are what we do.

So I took punches from the rest—
Delivered quite a few as well.
They trashed my plans! They were the best!
I mumbled: “You go right to hell.”

And I can’t tell you what surprise
I felt—and strong emotions more—
When there, before my very eyes,
They all just fell right through the floor.

And Satan rose and said to me,
“Now, I am not a guy’s who’s rude,
But I’ve done you a favor, see?
And now you really owe me, dude!”

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