Word Play

Un-Opposites / Self-Opposites

I don't know what to call these. They seem to be antonyms, but the words they would be antonyms of don't exist, or mean the same thing, or are used much less often. Perhaps pseudo-antonyms? Untonyms?

  • flammable / inflammable
  • incontinent / continent - you never hear about someone who is continent, but they make adult diapers for those who are incontinent
  • inclement / clement - you hear about inclement weather, but not clement weather (but the word does exist, I think, and you do hear about clemency)
  • incentive / excentive - (I heard some people at work talking about "incenting" people)
  • inundated / undated / dated - "inundated" means flooded; does "undated" mean "not flooded"?
  • outcast / incast - someone can be an outcast, but what about someone who is not an outcast -- is he an incast?
  • incest / outcest -
  • intense / extense - although there is intensive/extensive and intent/extent (how did that happen?)
  • discombobulate / combobulate - how can you be discombobulated if you were never combobulated?
  • undaunted / daunted - I've never heard anyone carry on daunted. (Need to check if daunted is a word, or just rarely used.)
  • feckless / feck - no such word as "feck"
  • reckless / wreck - reckless sounds like it should mean "not wreck", but it means "wreckful". The word "reck" means "to care for", but I've never heard it used.
  • nonchalant / chalant - it's from French, so that might explain it. Another French-derived synonym is "insouciant", with no corresponding "souciant".
  • inept / ept - the opposite of "inept" is actually "apt"
  • fraud / defraud - to defraud is to commit fraud, but to deice or deplane is to remove something from the base word
  • impeccable / peccable - I've never heard of anyone having "peccable" taste.
  • impeach / peach
  • imbibe / bibe
  • indescribable / describable - People rarely mention something as being "describable". And doesn't calling something "indescribable" give it a description?
  • nondescript / descript
  • inscrutable / scrutable
  • impunity / punity
  • impugn / pugn - apparently not related to the word "impunity".
  • indefatigable / defatigable / fatigable
  • unwieldy / wieldy - "wieldy" is a real word, but I've never heard it used.
  • insomnia / somnia - there is a band named "Somnia", and apparently "somnial" is a word.
  • inevitable / evitable - I've never heard the word "evitable" used, although it is in SOME dictionaries; Isaac Asimov apparently wrote a book called "The Evitable Conflict"; when looking up the word, I found that "evite" is a related word, meaning "to avoid" -- odd how an eVite is sort of the opposite of "avoid"
  • impregnable / pregnable - impregnable means "unable to be penetrated", or "capable of being made pregnant", which seem like opposites to me; some dictionaries do contain the word "pregnable".
  • impoverished / poverished - impoverished means "poverty-stricken".
  • ineffable / effable
  • inert / ert
  • inexorable / exorable
  • unfettered / fettered - fettered is actually a word, but rarely used, and usually used to mean literally "shackled".
  • incorrigible / corrigible - corrigible is actually a word, but not in all dictionaries.
  • unruly / ruly - some dictionaries do contain the word "ruly", but I've never heard it used (except jokingly in the first Jimmy Fallon show).
  • immaculate / maculate - from Latin for "not blemished".
  • inane / ane
  • inadvertent / advertent - most dictionaries include the word "advertent", but I've never seen or heard it used.
  • impervious / pervious - "pervious" is in most dictionaries, but I had never heard it used until I heard about "pervious concrete", which allows water to pass through into the ground below.
  • hapless / hap - "hap" means "luck" or "fortune", but is marked as archaic in most dictionaries, and I've never heard it used.
  • underwhelmed / overwhelmed / whelmed - I've never heard the word "whelmed" used, but it apparently means the same as "overwhelmed".
  • renege / nege - I've never "neged", so I'm not sure I could "renege".
  • inauspicious / auspicious - "auspicious" is a word, but I don't think I've ever heard it used.
  • demolish / molish

There's a similar phenomenon with the "re-" prefix:

  • remain
  • retain
  • remark / remarkable
  • refrain
  • retribution
  • rebuke
  • remunerate
  • retaliate
  • resign (borderline - resigning could be seen as signing a second time - once to start, and once to finish)

Here's someone else's list. He calls them negatives without positives.

There's a related set of words called contronyms, which are their own antonyms.

Oxymorons

YourDictionary.com - a site with links to almost any dictionary, thesaurus, glossary, etc.

Word and Phrase Origins

Linguistics, etc.

SIL International - resources on less common languages, including fonts (and IPA and mark-up fonts)

AncientScripts.com - info on almost any writing system, including the Phaistos Disc

Phaistos Disk - more info about this one-sample-only writing system