I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that the English language has more than its share of incongruity. Between homonyms, synonyms and antonyms and double entendres, a person just learning the language can be justifiably confused. But that’s also true for those of us quite used to speaking the language.
Nowhere is this more evident than in “unpaired” words. That is, positive or negative words in common usage that don’t have an opposite. They may have had in more archaic times, but they have since vanished from the lexicon. We have created other words to handle that. For example, we say someone is ungainly but we don’t ever say they are gainly, rather they are graceful. Generally, these are words that have a prefix or suffix. Dropping those to try to get an opposite meaning makes them sound pretty goofy. Try these on for size:
“The disgruntled employee, Joe, avoided all the gruntled employees.”
“Though she was an invalid and he was a valid, they were still happy.”
“His manner with the girl was untoward, but it was toward with the guy.”
“Though unruly at first, the child later became quite ruly.”
“His life was pretty hapless, but I told him someday his life would be hap.”
“Please don’t dismantle that, it took me hours to mantle it!”
“What he said was absurd, so I told him to try to be more surd.”
“Though I was at first dismayed by the thought, later I became mayed.”
“He arrived dishevelled, so she told him to go get shevelled.”
“Though seemingly ageless, his death proved he was indeed, “ageful.”
“He seemed in a state of despair, but he was actually feeling spair.”
Have I missed any? Please feel free to submit your favorite unpaired words.
Twelve Sentences I Never Expected to Read, but now that I have, I guess I am pected.
Don’t worry, Margy, they have pills for that.
These kinds of writings make me realize you are way ahead of me in the day to day thought process. I could never come up with such verbal creations! (PS . You had asked about my motorcycle man from the blog story…this Thursday will be 4 weeks since the famous Tex-Mex dinner and we are going strong! I have gotten as far as trying on a loaner helmet for a future ride in my neighborhood…. we shall see….. but sharing laughter and lingering over glasses of wine are now a part of my life…stay tuned for the April story!) jfh
I live to serve. But then you knew that.
Trying to think of something that contains “regurgitate” and “gurge” (a word) but not going well. I’ll get back to you in a year. I’m sure I’ll have something clever by then
I’m not anonymous. I’m Bernice.
“When James regurgitated, it was only then that he realized he had never gurgitated in the first place.”
I knew you’d pick up my slack, Al. Thanks.
Love the first one Al !
To peak and poke would never do for the ladies misspeak and misspoke 😉
You’re right – I’d be truly offended if someone called me gainly. I’d for certain start checking out my backside in the nearest mirror to see where the extra stuff I was gaining was going to. And, I would never want to get shelvelled. That sounds truly horrible. Isn’t that what happens to guys in prison?
Anyway, thanks for the fun post. English is indeed a confusing language. Although I’ve tried to learn a few Dutch words from my guests from the Netherlands and that’s just not a pretty sight. They can keep their ugly Dutch. When I try to speak it, it sounds like I’m choking.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Still laughing at the prison reference. Your funny comments show that you certainly have no bash. Here’s hoping that your wish to remain ungainly is granted.
This post made my day Al….totally my sense of humor.
Sometimes I carry packages that are unwieldy….I would much rather carry the wieldy ones.
That makes you inept at carrying the unwieldy ones but ept at carrying the wieldy ones.
Yes!!! I am so ept!
These are great Al! I can’t think of any to add but I’m sure I’ll pop awake at 2am with a few thoughts. Lord help me if I actually get up and comment. 😉
Give me a call. I’ll be up.
I’ve often been discombobulated, but rarely am I bobulated.
Love that one.
You always make me smile. Thanks.
Then my work here is done.