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Doing double-duty

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Topic: 3) Doing double-duty (1 of 4), Read 102 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Toby Lester (toby@theatlantic.com)
Date: Thursday, February 25, 1999 08:40 AM

Marty Smith, of Portland, Oregon, writes: "The January Word Court prompted me to reopen a case that had been in the inactive file for several years. You pointed out that both 'clear' and 'transparent' could have opposite meanings. Is there a word for such words? Another such is 'cleave,' which can mean both 'to fit closely' and 'to separate by force.' At one time I had several others in custody, but they escaped one night by dangling a participle out the window of the jail and climbing down it.

"A known associate of this fugitive word is one for word pairs that are synonymous in two discrete senses. An example is the pair 'punt' and 'kick,' both of which can mean either 'to strike with the foot' or 'the indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle.'

"I would encourage you to put out a OED APB on these two, who I suspect may be traveling together."

P.S. While Barbara Wallraff is on vacation, I'll be posting new Word Fugitives here in Post & Riposte.

Toby Lester

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Topic: 3) Doing double-duty (2 of 4), Read 95 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Jason Taniguchi (jasont@ccp.ca)
Date: Thursday, February 25, 1999 04:25 PM

I hate to put a damper on the excellent job that you have been doing, Toby, in filling the inestimable Ms. Wallraff's unfillable shoes, so I hope you realize that this missive is meant in the most generous and buddy-movie-ish spirit, but: we done did this one already! The topic of words that are their own opposites is, how to put it?, a Word Fugitive alumnus! The previous dicussion can be found in the Word Court archive, at www.theatlantic.com/unbound/fugitives/courtrec.htm , under the title of "Words with diametrical meanings" (less catchy, admittedly, than the suddenly-ironic "Doing double-duty"). I see no reason that the subject should not go right on being discussed if new readers have new things to say, but I urge everybody to check out the previous discussion. You can tell that it was a worthwhile discussion, given that it featured a posting by the Toronto Serial Diners Collective.

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Topic: 3) Doing double-duty (3 of 4), Read 96 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Thursday, February 25, 1999 05:58 PM

you are (of course) right, Jason -- but let's be even more helpful and give folks a handy link:

Words with
diametrical meanings

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Topic: 3) Doing double-duty (4 of 4), Read 88 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Brian Saker (briansaker@aol.com)
Date: Thursday, February 25, 1999 06:49 PM

The expression "hoi polloi", which the Oxford defines as relating to the common people, originally referred to the high society set.


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