Monday, July 4, 2016

Sound and Sense, 30

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.

transparent adj.
1. invisible
2. obvious

“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?

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