Monday, July 11, 2016

Sound and Sense, 37

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.

with (prep)
1. alongside
2. against

I stood with you when you were wrong;
I fought with you when you were right;
I sold you out for just a song;
I told the world you weren’t too bright;

I took your lover (once) to bed;
I trashed you once on Twitter, too;
I vandalized your car with red;
I vandalized your house with blue.

But I was wondering just now
If friendship-fracture ever mends.
I mean—is there a way (somehow?)
That you and I could still be friends?

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