SOUND AND SENSE:
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 endure
2. to deteriorate
“These tires will get you splendid wear”—
So said the salesman (debonair).
Well, they did wear, the buyer found.
For when he took a look around
Just weeks beyond the tire sale,
He saw that all were soon to fail:
As smooth as glass—no tread at all.
He quickly made an angry call.
But no one answered at the store:
It wasn’t there, not anymore.
And so he learned a lesson sad.
The cheapest things are often bad,
And though it’s really far from right,
Some outfits are just fly-by-night.