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Positive forms of negative words


We should resurrect the positive forms of some words that are usually used only in their negative forms. The sentences below are suggested as models for a more positive outlook.

incorrigible (Latin, in-, not + corrigĕre, correct) -- “He is corrigible,” said Madge hopefully. “Every moonlit evening my teenage son goes out and comes home at three in the morning as a werewolf, but then insists on changing back to his human form.”

indelible (Latin, in-, not + dēlēre, blot out, efface + -(a)ble, able to (be)) – Sure enough, by my tenth high school reunion I had forgotten all about her; she was the sort of girl that left a delible impression on you.

inevitable (Latin, in-, not + ēvītāre, avoid + -able) -- As he eventually realized, it was evitable that sooner or later he would start flirting with the boss’s daughter and get himself fired.

infant (Latin, infāns, infāntem, child, from in-, not + fāns (fārī), speaking) -- At the age of twenty months my little Alison finally became a real fant when she said, “Want mommy open this!”

ignorance = i(n)gnorance (Latin, in-, not + gno-, knowing + -ance, state of) -- In full gnorance of the risk he was taking, he forged the application papers for a position in the National Security Agency.

impertinence (Latin, im(in)-, not + pertinēre, to be suitable) -- “I will no longer stand for your pertinence!” shouted his mother. “Either you learn to swear and insult me like a true son of a mountain man, or find another place to live!”

nonchalant (French, nonchalant, not warmed, from Latin non, not + calēre, to be warm, to be roused with emotion) -- Surrounded by so many people, he may have preferred not to reveal his feelings; but his chalant demeanor betrayed how much his girlfriend’s thoughtless remark had hurt him.

unscathed (u-, un-, not + Old Norse, scatha, hurt, injure, damage) – In spite of his skill with the broadsword, he emerged from the skirmish thoroughly scathed.


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