Searching for words between the poles – introducing miranyms

By Curtis Honeycutt

My kids still don’t know that Santa can’t live at the North Pole. There’s no land underneath the ice sheets that melt and refreeze throughout the year at the place where elves allegedly make toys. However, there is land underneath the snow and ice at the South Pole.

This isn’t meant to be a geography lesson (although I found both of those facts interesting). Moreover, it’s an icebreaker meant to introduce the term “miranym.” A miranym is a word that lies in between two polar opposite words. It’s not “hot” or “cold” – it’s “lukewarm.”

Of course, nobody wants to be “lukewarm,” so let’s examine a few more examples of miranyms. Think about “open” and “closed.” Some would say a door is either open or closed – there is no middle ground. However, when a door is ajar, it’s a little bit of both. In our old house, none of the doors fully close, but that’s a topic for my other newspaper column, “Grumble Guy.”

Now consider the opposites “all” and “none.” It’s not all or nothing if it’s “some.” In the same way, you don’t have to be “early” or “late” to something; you can simply be “on time.” Is there something in between “coming” and “going”? Yes – you can “stay.” Now shake. That’s a good boy.

I think we’re quick to assign polar opposite words to many things these days. Their side is bad, while ours is good. Your opinions are either totally right or completely wrong. You’re an idiot! She’s a genius! It doesn’t take more than a brief glance at our Facebook or Twitter feeds to see people flocking to the opposite ends of the earth: I only shop at Target! People who shop at Walmart are the worst! Or: Target is for rich snobs! Walmart is for the everyman!

Needless to say, social media arguments generally focus on polarized politics. I’d like to suggest that most people actually live somewhere in the miranym-land of “somewhere in the middle.” Really, only one person can be “the worst,” while only one can be “the best.” Everyone else is in between. As much as the party bosses don’t want to admit it, most politics is non-binary.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of “noon.” It’s not morning, it’s not evening, night, or even afternoon. It’s noon. Noon is for lunchtime, going for walks outside, and checking the mail. The sun is out in full splendor. Noon is an exceedingly pleasant miranym (and palindrome, for that matter), and, because I didn’t want to end on politics, I ended on noon.

Curtis Honeycutt is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist and author. Connect with him at