Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sound and Sense, 35

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.

weather verb
1. to withstand
2. to wear away

He weathered every circumstance
That would have felled a lesser man.
But still he dreamed he had no pants
While walking through Afghanistan.

About his very troubling dreams
He thought he’d write a brilliant book.
He tried. He failed. So now it seems
He’s weathered some, and in his look

There is so much that’s worrisome:
His eyes flare sometimes very green—
He’s grown a very furry thumb,
Is just the oddest dude I've seen.

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