This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Nuts and Bolts: lost positives.

One of the things I like best about words is that nearly every word has its own story. Yes, sometimes words do seem to appear from nowhere (like the lovely yonks), but usually you can follow a word back and discover all sorts of things about the way people see their world. 

All we have left of some words, though, are shadows. They are words lost to time, and only their opposites remain.

So we have uncouth, but where is couth? And where are kempt and loof? (Oh, I do hope I'm loof!). How about the lovely ane, ert and sipid?

It's odd, but with nearly all these words we've kept the horrible one of the pair of opposites: I mean, we'd all love to be gruntled or consolate or gainly, if only we could.

We do have unswerving and impeccable and unflappable, but there are far more unwieldys and dismayeds.

Ah well! Perhaps it's just that there's only one way of getting something right, and a million ways of fouling up!

Word to use today: dishevelled. This word is from the French
deschevelé meaning bad hair (more or less), which is itself from the Latin word for hair, capillus.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of shadow words. And also words like 'dischuffed' to mean the opposite of 'chuffed.' I am very 'hevelled' at the moment as I'm going out tonight but will be 'dishevelled' come tomorrow!