Tag Archives: lonely negatives

Extra Lex: Lonely Negatives in Mental Floss

  We interrupt Lexie’s adventures for another Mental Flossing (which is entirely different from brainwashing). Disgruntled, disgusted and disheveled: Negative words that have lost their positive partners: Mental Floss

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Word Snooper and the Last of Chan?

Chan clicked open his eyeglass case, removed a cloth and polished his glasses. “I have a clue, you say?” He put the glasses back on and stared into the distance toward the multi-story atrium. “The text your lady friend sent … Continue reading

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Chan Shows the Word Snooper a Mysterious Message

The familiar crowd – the prepossessing and the dispossessed — was massed at the Central Library entrance as I strode up from the Red Line stop at Pershing Square. The Bluetoothed and the toothless alike were cursing out invisible interlocutors. … Continue reading

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Aster and Disaster

“He loves me. He loves me not,” is an incantation traditionally recited while plucking the petals of a daisy until the last remaining ray of the “day’s eye” reveals the answer. If you removed the star-like rays of an aster … Continue reading

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Disheveled but never sheveled

Have you ever been tempted to tell your child, “You look completely disheveled. Go shevel yourself”? Can you be “disheveled” if you’ve never been “sheveled,” or is it “heveled”? It’s neither. “Disheveled” is another “lonely negative,” a negation of a … Continue reading

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Da Funk Is Not Defunct

How can something be “defunct” when it was never “funct” in the first place? “Defunct” sounds like something that’s had the funk removed from it, like a freshly laundered pair of jeans or a Musak version of a James Brown … Continue reading

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clement, inclement, clemency

Fill in the blank: “inclement ________.”  That’s right “weather.” Inclement is one of those unusual adjectives used only to describe one thing. Even the OED gives as its first definition, “Of climate or weather: Not mild or temperate; extreme; severe. … Continue reading

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scrutable, inscrutable

First guy: I don’t get my sister. She’s inscrutable. Second guy: Really? I find her highly scrutable. Wait, you say. Isn’t that the same old joke you used with ineffable? Yeah, basically. Here’s another lonely negative. There’s inscrutable, meaning ‘That … Continue reading

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effable, ineffable

She:  Are you dumping me? What went wrong? He: I can’t explain. It’s ineffable. She: Are you saying I’m not f—able? That’s right. Ineffable, describing something ‘that cannot be expressed or described in language’ or is ‘too great for words; … Continue reading

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impeccable, peccable, peccadillo

“Impeccable” seems to be another unattached negative with no positive partner. Nowadays “peccable” is used only facetiously, but it once was, if not common, at least not giggle-worthy. We now hear “impeccable” or “impeccably” in terms of good manners, discerning … Continue reading

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