Positively Seeking Unmatched Negatives!
"Language is dynamic." That is a positive thing to say, isn't it? "Neologism" is the linguistic term for new words created in a language. English seems to get a bunch of new words every year.
However, some words in our English language seem to just be negative.
I don't mean what you think, though. Sure there are people who gripe about their health, lack of money, etc., but that isn't the topic here.
I am talking about words that seem to only have a negative form. The positive version isn't there, or has gone into disuse.
There are many prefixes that turn positive words into negative ones. But if you remove the negating prefix from some words, you get a word that seemingly isn't there.
I have begun a list here, and I will want to expand it. If you can help build the list, send a note to me [below].
Here we go.
[[Follow the development of this list on Internet Book Datbase of Fiction Forum Topic.]]
|Word||Unused Positive Form?||Notes|
|Disgruntled||Gruntled?||I am not
happy that there is no positive sense available here.
(*) Also mentioned in Michael Quinion's World Wide Words site.
|Disgust (Disgusted)||Gusted?||My distaste is soothed by milk and cookies.|
|Dismay (Dismayed)||Mayed?||I suppose I should be alarmed, but not surprised at this one.|
|Disparage||Parage?||Should we only express a negative opinion of someone or something?|
with its negative form?
Congruous is a good word, but it doesn't quite match the negative--"corresponding in character or kind"
|The positive here is actually used, but has a very negative meaning itself. Hence "we should not discriminate against" a group of people. That may be why it isn't used as a positive for indiscriminate.|
|Inviolate||Violate (Violated?)||Maybe this should be left for you to look up in a dictionary.|
|Nondescript||Descript? (Distinct?)||I have the feeling that I need more details about this one.|
|Unmentionables||Mentionables||This one strikes me funny. Of course, there cannot be a positive here. Underwear is not to be mentioned in polite company (guess that leaves me out of polite company)|
There are also some "marginal" words.
|Disable||Enable||I say marginal because
the base "able" isn't the positive.
En- as a prefix is positive. Engender, enforce, etc. share the positive prefix...though I don't think you would say "disforce" or "disgender" for negatives.
There are also "failed" negatives. They have the negative form, but are used to express a positive condition.
|Invaluable||Valuable||If anything, "invaluable" is even more positive than saying simply "valuable."|
Although consideration of orphan (unpaired) negative words isn't a major linguistic concern, there appear to be others who find this topic interesting:
Not alone in interest for this topic:
Michael Quinion writes about
negatives in his on line column World
Consider this nonsense sentence from EditPros: "Ept, plussed managers operate sipid programs because they ter their ruly employees, who exhibit an admirable regard for feasance."
Read the reply from CalifJim to a
question about prefix
use which is more generic, but raises a few interesting
There is an interesting double negative "undisclosed" prefix in this entry of Pain in the English blog.
Also try doing Web searches for the following phrases: