“We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter
we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse;
we carry a museum inside our heads,
each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.”
– Penelope Lively –
Since you’re a walking lexicon: What’s the opposite of immediate? What’s the opposite of ruthless? What’s the opposite of exhume? If you answered with words like eventual, caring, or bury, you’d be right – in today’s world. But if you had lived back in the 1400’s – or even the 1800’s – your answer might have been different. And if you’re a word lover like me, well . . .
While doing research this week, I discovered that some common English words have lost their original opposites – or we rarely use them. Consider these curious opposites.
ruthless – ruthful
exhume – inhume
inclement – clement
inevitable – evitable
emancipate – mancipate
invincible – vincible
inalienable – alienable
accommodate – discommodate
impeccable – peccable
income – outgo
ungainly – gainly
So . . . may your way be gainly, your weather clement, and your income greater than your outgo.
I’ll leave you with this to chew on:
“The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty.”
– Richard Holloway –
In English Through the Ages, you can find these and other long-lost English words and discover when many of our words were first used.
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Text © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.
Photos courtesy pexels.com.