Peculiarities of the English language.

XmisterIS

Purveyor of fine nonsense
My GF remarked the other day that she finds the word "gormless" peculiar because it implies that one is without "gorm" ... but you'd never describe someone as being "gormful" or "gormy", nor is there a noun, "gorm". So the meaning of the word "gorm" seems to have been lost, and we're left with "gormless".

I'm trying to think of other examples but can't think of any straight off!
 

TVC

Guest
Feckless
 
I used to puzzle over words beginning with "un-", which are not opposites of the same word without the "un-". For example, uncouth, unwieldy (can you be "couth" or "wieldy"?). How many such words are there?
 

battered

Über Member
You *can* be couth, it means cultured. I'm pretty sure you can have something that's wieldy too. The exception is inert, there is of course no ert and it does *not* mean "not ert". The word comes direct from Latin (according to my OED) "iners" or "inert" meaning "like art" in the sense of not moving.
 

gavintc

Guru
Location
Southsea
The one I like is flammable and inflammable.
 

battered

Über Member
The same OED has gormless from gaumless and gaum being cleverness. Sadly gaum is no longer in use. Happily "nous" is still in use, esp in the North, and means about the same thing. Usually heard in raised terms, as in "oh for heaven's sake do I have to tell you everything? Use some nous and work it out for yourself!" I don't know the etymology but I'd guess it as Norse.
 
xpc316e said:
If you can be underwhelmed, and overwhelmed, by something then it should be the case that you can be whelmed when it is just right.
i believe whelmed referred to being in a boat that was stable. if you were overwhelmed it meant you were taking on water and submerging.

flamable and inflamable mean the same as the 'in' in this case comes from the french 'en' (i think).
 

gavintc

Guru
Location
Southsea
reiver said:
a "Cargo" goes on a ship
a "Shipment" goes in a lorry
From my perspective this is an American usage creeping into English. The Americans have lots of anomalies, just where is an American 'fanny'? Are they built differently?
 
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