Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sound and Sense, 42

We’re moving next to the homophone: a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not, as heir and air. So … contronyms are words that have contradictory meanings (sanctiion = approve and disapprove; homophones sound alike but to not mean the same—and often are not spelled the same, either.

can’t (verb): contraction of can not
cant (noun): the expression or repetition of conventional or trite opinions or sentiments; esp. the use of pious words

“What is your problem!” cried my aunt.
My uncle said, “I can’t stand cant.”

“Oh, well,” she said, “go out and paint!”
“Go paint the barn!?” he said. “I ain’t.”

“You should have said, ‘I’m not,’” she snipped.
“You’re right,” he said. “I simply tripped

Upon my silly stupid tongue—”
He said no more: His neck was wrung.

And so it goes with uncles, aunts:
The loser often wears the pants.

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