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.
“Your motives are transparent, Dan.
You hope we’ll think that you're a man.
But we can’t think that—no one can.”
I felt that was a little hard—
And so I took him to my yard
To see if he’d, you know, die hard.
He didn’t. Burying him with skill,
I left no sign, no lumpy hill,
And went inside and took a pill.
And later—through transparent glass—
I saw that there was greener grass
Right where he lay. You can’t surpass
That grave I dug. The plan so fine—
He’s lain out there since ’89.
I wonder: Did I cross the line?