Monday, September 08, 2014

Monday Poetry Stretch - Polysemantic words

I'm always inspired and a bit in awe when I read a poem that uses the same word in multiple ways. I often wish I were this clever. However, I've begun to think that like many things, getting better is a matter of practice.

Polysemantic words are words that have multiple, diverse meanings. I often share these words in math and science to highlight just how confusing content vocabulary can be for students. Think about the word scale. Scale can be:
  • an instrument used to measure weight or mass
  • the outer covering on a reptile or fish
  • a proportion between two sets of dimensions
  • a series of musical tones in ascending or descending order
  • the act of climbing 
I'm sure you can think of many words that have multiple meanings. Your challenge this week is to pick a polysemantic word and use it in multiple ways in a poem of any form. I hope you will join me. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. Somehow, the word blew in, Tricia!

    I’ve learned patience with the string,
    un-winding a few turns at a time.
    When the kite nibbles on the breeze,
    I take off running until I’m winded,
    until the kite, higher, higher
    catches the wind,
    sails on like freedom must feel.
    Linda Baie © All Rights

    Terrific exercise!

    1. Yay, Linda! I'll have to work on this...

    2. Thanks, Kate. It really did just appear after reading Tricia's challenge. Now I'll always be on the lookout!

  2. Thinking about how nouns lead to verbs with this one. We had a tremendous storm yesterday, but I thought it worked better as an October day.


    The thunder thunders,
    the wide waves wave.
    The lightning lights
    the dark sky-cave.
    The storm clouds storm
    and the gray day grieves.
    October glowers
    as the leaves leave.

    —Kate Coombs, 2014
    all rights reserved

    1. Like that the storm helped create your poem, Kate

    2. Thanks, Linda! It was raining so hard I could hardly see while driving to work. Thunder's great but so is visibility. :)