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.
wind up verb
1. to end
2. to start up
“ We’ll wind up our inquiry when
You tell us where you've really been.”
My parents were insistent, so
I told the story—let it flow.
“I’ll wind up this sad story, Dad,
By starting with the part that’s sad,
The part where I sneaked out last night—
I know that wasn’t very bright,
“But I was worried 'cuz Lucille—
And you know how she makes me feel—
Had texted me that she was blue—
So tell me, Mom, what you would do?”
My mother smiled—she often smiles
When she cannot restrain her wiles.
“I ask my parents what to do—
And this is what we thought that you
Would do.” Oh, well. It didn’t fly,
My story (I’ll admit: a lie).
Oh, stupid! A confounded plan!
And now I am so grounded, man.