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Puzzle: predicating "un" without it being an antonym

Chacham (981) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 18

Normally, when adding the letters "un" to the beginning of a word, it is a prefix that makes the word mean its opposite. For example, "clean" and "unclean", "lock" and "unlock", and "friendly" and "unfriendly".

Normally, when adding the letters "un" to the beginning of a word, it is a prefix that makes the word mean its opposite. For example, "clean" and "unclean", "lock" and "unlock", and "friendly" and "unfriendly".

Then I noticed the words "canny" and "uncanny". Not only is uncanny not its opposite, but it means even more so! So, I've been asking people for words that when the letters "un" are attached to its beginning, that the word does not mean its opposite. An early candidate mentioned by my brother was "icicle" and "unicycle". That sounded great, until we realized the spelling difference. A friend mentioned "it" and "unit", which I particularly liked. I wanted to add "animus" and "unanimous", but my lexicon shattered those dreams.

So far the list is:

canny/uncanny
it/unit

Any others?

Added: less/unless (Twirlip)
Added: to/unto (Friend)

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18 comments

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On a related topic (1)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 10 years ago | (#5372685)

I'm reminded of the relationship between 'regardless'and 'irregardless' (the first being a word, the second not). It is funny because the second turns out to be a double negative (the ir prefix and the less suffix).

Interesting interesting.

Off Topic... (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#5372783)

Sorry, but I have to quote Ralph Wiggim:

Me fail english? That's unpossible!

Re:Off Topic... (1)

glh (14273) | more than 10 years ago | (#5373154)

Hey, you beat me to it :)

Not an un- difference, but... (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#5372959)

flammable
inflammable

Since in- is often used in the same way as un- which is to say as a negation. Of course, inflammable is not properaly the opposite of flammable :p

Re:Not an un- difference, but... (1)

TechnoLust (528463) | more than 10 years ago | (#5373319)

"Inflammable means flammible? What a country!" - Dr. Nick (The Simpsons)

Re:Not an un- difference, but... (1)

AntiFreeze (31247) | more than 11 years ago | (#5382542)

Not to mention:

famous
infamous

sight
insight

step
instep

seam
inseam

And there was another I was thinking of that I just lost. Oh well.

In other words, the "un" words Chacham is looking for are much harder to find than the "in" words.

That said, I found another one:

animous
unanimous

Re:Not an un- difference, but... (1)

subgeek (263292) | more than 11 years ago | (#5383988)

in- is one of those pesky prefixes that has more than one meaning. though the negating meaning is used more often than the enabling meaning.

How about... (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#5373036)

How about "less" and "unless?"

Re:How about... (1)

Dannon (142147) | more than 10 years ago | (#5374683)

Or, for that matter, ask a physicist for the definition of "ionized", and a liberal for the definition of "unionized".

Re:How about... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#5374896)

Very good!

"Canny" and "uncanny" (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#5373054)

I don't know if this matters to you, but Webster's defines "uncanny" as "Not canny; unsafe; strange; weird; ghostly." I think the first two definitions are much less common than the last three today, though.

Re:"Canny" and "uncanny" (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#5374917)

Maybe that's why I don't use Webter's. :-)

Generally, I see is used as "a canny ability", or "a canny person".

What about... (1)

TechnoLust (528463) | more than 10 years ago | (#5373259)

iCorn = new snack chips from Apple Computers &
unicorn = mythical beast
:-)

What about... (1)

glh (14273) | more than 10 years ago | (#5373315)

I've heard the term "Disgruntled employee" but I've never heard "gruntled employee"... Is gruntled an actual word? :)

Re:What about... (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#5374783)

Where did I hear this? "You can be underwhelmed. And you can be overwhelmed. But can you ever be just whelmed?"

Re: about... (1)

Shorespirit (638949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5427802)

I've heard gruntled used by computer people who like affectations - who knows, maybe it'll become a word again...

double negative makes .. a negative? (1)

memfree (227515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5374920)

The prefix Uni- just indicates a single as opposed to two, three, many, none, or such.

Un- is a negation -- similar to de-, dis- or in- (which becomes im- when followed by a 'p' or 'm' sound).

So any 'un-i-this' or 'un-i-that' is unlikely to have the same meaning as 'this' or 'that' because you'd be looking at different base words. Similarly, 'unit' is not a negation of 'it' -- they're from different root words and from different source languages -- built it's cool that they can be read as a base and its negation. I can't think of any others that match, but now I'll be thinking about it.

In the meantime, I could go on a whole branch of prefix/suffix modifications of base words and sound-alikes (propose/depose/impose, etc.), but that'd get far off topic. To stray only a little: I'd like to add that my favorite stupidly negated word is indefatigable.

1) fatigue - (v) exhaust (tire) (n) exhaustion (a state of being tired).
2) fatigable - (adj) being susceptible to exhaustion.
3) infatigable - (adj) being unsusceptible to exhaustion. -- archaic
4) indefatigable - (adj) being unsusceptible to exhaustion.

Why'd we drop the shorter, more logical form for the longer double negative of the same meaning???

another (1)

Shorespirit (638949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5427854)

until

(the original spelling was untill; or, if you prefer, the OED cites 'til as a 20th century contraction.)

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