Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sound and Sense, 26



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.

skinned adj.
1. covered with skin
2. with the skin removed

Although the creature, greenly skinned,
Had gills, was very sharply finned,
He really made me laugh—and bend

With such delight and endless glee
That I just flat out failed to see
That he, now crazed, was stalking me.

He caught me—won’t pretend—
And quickly had me cleanly skinned,
And I don’t think that I will mend

Because—now that I think of it—
The creature's had a hunger fit,
And now I’m turning on a spit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sound and Sense, 25



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.

screen verb
1. to present
2. to conceal

They all agreed that they should screen
Employees with complexions green:

They could be Martians (at the least)—
Or prehistoric sort of beast?

But Rex was clever, and he screened
His foul intents—until he gleaned

What their routines were really for.
And then he rose, began to roar.

“Why would they hire a T Rex, dude?
No wonder all of them got chewed!”

So said the guy from the museum—
Who fondly named the T Rex Liam.

And traveled with him, coast to coast,
Made lots of bucks, enjoyed each toast

That came with his celebrity.
Then Liam ate him (with chablis).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sound and Sense, 24



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.

sanction (verb)
1. to approve
2. to boycott

“I cannot sanction what you’ve done”—
So said the Judge that Judgment Day,
And I could only think, “Which one
Of that word’s meanings is in play?”

I found out later when I stepped
Inside the elevator. (Frown.)
For there I learned the secret kept:
Yes, all the buttons were for “Down.”

And when the elevator doors
Drew wide—it wasn’t all that neat.
For we had dropped so many floors—
And, oh, infernal, hellish HEAT!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sound and Sense, 23



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.

rock (noun)
1. an immobile mass of stone (or figuratively similar phenomenon)
2. a shaking or unsettling movement or action

Old Ahab stood there, like a rock,
While grim old Moby-Dick attacked.
He tolerated no loose talk—
He hated Moby, that’s a fact.

He felt the boat, its troubled rock,
And knew they’d very likely sink.
He hummed a tune from J. S. Bach—
As life itself seemed on the brink.

The whale had won—that’s no surprise.
Destruction was both sure and quick,
And left were only Ishmael’s eyes …
And this: Don’t mess with Moby-Dick!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sound and Sense, 22



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.

puzzle
1. a problem (noun)
2. to solve one (verb, often with out)

She puzzled out the answer when
She saw the bill from where he’d been—
Oh, he’ll not fool his wife again!

We’d thought it was a puzzle—pick
A creep like him to marry! Sick!
A bod like dough, a brain like brick.

But “love is blind,” or so they say,
So it required that fateful day
For her to come to think the way

Her cheating spouse deserved. And so
She ditched him—locked him out, and, yo,
He got the message—had to go.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sound and Sense, 21



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.

put out verb
1. extinguish
2. generate

He grabbed the fire extinguisher—
There was a fire to be put out
It happened in a flurried blur.
His boss was very pleased about

The effort that he’d just put out:
“You’ll get a raise—well, pretty soon,”
He promised, and there was no doubt
That promised raise? A Looney Tune,

The sort that bosses often sing
When in the flush of victory,
But here is just the damnedest thing:
That raise? Invisibility.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sound and Sense, 20

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.

oversight noun
1. monitoring
2. failing to oversee

She was in charge of oversight
Throughout the company.
But she messed up—and her excuse?
“An oversight, you see?”

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sound & Sense, 19



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.

overlook verb
1. to supervise
2. to neglect

Today, the boss got on my case—
In fact, got right up in my face.
“Why did you, Dan, again misplace

My very favorite dirty book?
It’s not a thing to overlook!
I’m thinking now … perhaps you took

It from its special hiding spot!”
“Oh no!” I cried. “Oh, I would not
Deprive you of a text so hot!

“I overlook this office, sir,
And would not let some filthy cur
Rip off your things—do you concur?”

And this is how some peace returned—
Some peace I hadn’t really earned.
I had the book—which no one learned.

I put it back—oh, clever I!
And he was pleased—oh, stupid guy!
Oh, what a saving grace, a lie!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sound and Sense, 18



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.

out adj.
1. visible, as with stars showing in the sky
2. invisible, in reference to lights

The moon was out; the stars were, too,
And he was thinking what to do.
Is this the night to pitch some woo?

He looked at her—but with some doubt.
She knew what he was all about,
And so his light of hope went out.

But then she slumped into his arms—
And he was stunned by all her charms.
He vowed he’d keep her from all harms.

And so he did, from then till now.
She loves him so (he wonders how).
Amazing what our loves allow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sound and Sense, 17



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.

off adj.
1. deactivated
2. activated (as an alarm)

I thought I turned the dumb thing off—
Was positive I did.
But when the fire alarm went off,
I simply ran and hid.

My boss, of course, knew where I hid—
And found me soon enough,
“I told you: ‘Turn the damn thing off!’”
I thought he sounded … gruff.

I cried and whimpered, made excuse—
My usual display.
But he was angry—burning up—
And fired me anyway.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sound and Sense, 16



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.

mean adj.
1. average
2. excellent

“The mean,” she said, “on your last test
Was hardly much above the last.
Next week, dear class, please bring your best—
If you expect, that is, to pass.”
"But I did well," said Studious Sam.
“I know what education’s for.
A studier—that’s what I am—
That’s how I got a real mean score!”

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sound and Sense, 15


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.

left verb
1. remained
2. departed

And when the others simply left,
He felt so thoroughly bereft
That he had thoughts so far from kind:
“And once again I’m left behind!”
He thought, “Revenge! I'll bait a trap!”
But first he thought he’d take a nap.
But while he napped—well, while he tried
His heart surrendered—he had died.
The moral of this tawdry tale?
Make quick revenge—or you may fail.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sound and Sense, 14



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.

hold up verb
1. to support
2. to impede

She held me up when I was down—
She saved me when I thought I’d drown.
For me, she wore a wedding gown.
Then cheated—every guy in town!

**

He held up progress—every way—
Until we all began to say:
“There is no way that we can stay
In your employ.” And he said, “Hey,
You’re fired!” (Our boss just not play.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sound and Sense, 13



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.

flog verb

1. to promote persistently
2. to criticize or beat

He flogged relentlessly to sell
The products he knew very well,
And he succeeded, we can tell,
For he and wife and kids now dwell
In that new mansion in the dell.

**

He called himself The Whaler, and
He was much feared throughout our land.

I laughed at him—called him a nut—
And then he really flogged my butt.

He was my 8th grade teacher, see:
Because I laughed, he whaled on me.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sound and Sense, 12

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.


fix verb
1. to repair
2. to castrate

I fixed the broken swinging door.
The owner’s dog then bit me—for
A reason I can’t comprehend.
And while I lay there, on the mend,
In my own house, I thought about
Revenge. And in my dreams his snout
His flashing, dripping, bloody fangs
Created many anguished pangs.
But all my secret plans were nixed:
The neighbor took and got him fixed.
And now he lies there in the sun—
With only memories for fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sound and Sense, 11



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.

finished adj.
1. completed
2. ended or destroyed

“At last! I’m finished!” he cried out.
“And there cannot be any doubt
That fame will follow—oh, my book
Is really gonna steam and cook!”
But all the critics said, “It sucks!”
Now knowing he would get no bucks,
He cried again, “I’m finished, Yo!
Oh, how a writer suffers so!”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sound and Sense, 10



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.

fast adj.
1. quick
2. stuck or made stable

The hare was certain he was fast,
So he was confident, of course,
When turtle planned the race. A blast,
He thought, I’ll have. But such remorse

The hare would feel at race’s end:
The turtle beat him! Can not be!
But it was true. I must pretend!
He feigned a limp—pathetically.

**

He swung on trees—he had a blast.
The next thing: He was in a cast.
He’d fallen—he was so aghast.

So fast at home he had to stay
On many a lovely summer day—
Oh, why do things just go this way!

But he recovered—back to trees
He went—he fell again. A sad reprise.
And this time fractured both his knees.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Sound and Sense, 9



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.

dust verb

1. to add fine particles.
2. to remove fine particles.

The time has come—I really must
Set time aside to clean and dust.
Upon our furniture—a crust.

**

The breadboard you should lightly dust
With flour. Otherwise the dough
Will stick, your bread be less robust,
And you’ll be like that bird from Poe:

Your baking will be such a chore,
And you’ll be croaking, “Nevermore!”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sound and Sense, 8



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.

consult verb
1. to offer advice
2. to obtain advice

He told the NSA that he
Was happy to consult.
He said he was an expert in
A certain kind of cult.

“We need,” the NSA declared,
“Before we can reply,
To meet, consult with others—
Just to see what kind of guy

You are.” And he said he’d consult,
As well, and let them know
If all this consultation meant
That everything was “go.”

The consultations carried on
Or many many years.
By then the parties noticed that
No one had any ears!

They all had simply fallen off
Because of overuse.
And so a warning: This is what
Consulting can produce.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sound and Sense, 7



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.

clip verb
1. to fasten
2. to detach

She clipped the pin onto her dress—
The pin that he had bought.
He was considerate, her guy—
At least that’s what she thought

Until she saw there on the back
Of that most gorgeous pin:
“Enjoy the free reward you’ve earned
For buying so much gin!”

**

Delilah was a tricky one.
Although she seemed to favor fun,
She had a task that must be done.

She lured young Samson to her bed,
And when his appetites were fed,
She clipped his locks right from his head.

Which all suggests that if you care
About your strength (so very rare),
Keep closer watch upon your hair.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sound and Sense, 6



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.

cleave verb
1. to adhere
2. to separate

I vowed that I would cleave to her—
She vowed she’d cleave to me.
But later on she grew so bored
She wished she could be free.

And so she found a way that she’d
Be single once again:
She bought an axe and wielded it—
And cleaved my head in twain.

So in my grave I contemplate—
I guess it’s like a salve—
The ways that English words are weird—
Split meanings they can have!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sound and Sense, 5



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.


buckle verb
1. to connect
2. to break or collapse

His buckled, tightly, his new belt—
And this is kind of what he felt:
He wished he’d bought a larger size:
His gut his smaller belt defies.
’Twas time to diet (to endure).
He’d start … tomorrow … that’s for sure.

**

He walked across the fragile bridge—
And dreamed of his capacious fridge.
Oh, my, the treats that waited there—
Especially that rich ├ęclair!

Oh, all that food seemed heaven-sent.
The bridge then buckled—down he went.
A grieving friend wrote such a song:
“Don’t Put Your Diet Off Too Long.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sound and Sense, 4



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.

bound adj.
1. heading to a destination
2. restrained from movement

We heard that he was Yukon bound:
He hoped for riches in the ground.
Alas, there were none to be found.
Now all he does is hang around
And mutter things not too profound.

**

They bound and gagged him—reason why?
He was a most obnoxious guy.

He always bragged about his looks—
And claimed he’d “never read no books.”

No women liked him—nor no men—
And this, of course, is not a sin.

But he became unbearable—
So truly awful, terrible.

We gagged him—he was firmly bound.
He’s on a boat, now Yukon bound.