You can debunk something, but why can’t you bunk something?

As readers, we recognize prefixes, like dis-, in-, non- and un-, as expressing negation. We immediately know that “unfair” means “not fair.” However, there are some clear exceptions to these rules. Such anomalies can cause  confusion for a few reasons. For one, the prefix in- also literally means in, such as inquire, inclose, and insure. The word impromptu for instance comes directly from the Latin phrase in promptu that means “in readiness.”

In other cases, the original root word was lost to time. For example, insipid, meaning bad taste, comes from the word sapid, meaning tasteful. Today insipid is used much more often than sapid.

One particularly tangled example of negative prefixes is the pair ravel and unravel. The word ravel comes from the Dutch word ravelen meaning to tangle or unweave. The word simultaneously means to disentangle and to entangle because in sewing as you unwind a thread, it becomes tangled.

Debunk was originally a neologism by author William Woodward in his 1923 book Bunk, whose main character “de-bunked” nonsense or illusions, basically bursting bubbles.

Check out more examples:














Are there other words that you come across that were contrary to your expectation?

Misspelling voids letter of credit. this web site letter of credit

American Banker May 14, 1985 NEW YORK — A federal appeals court has ruled that the misspelling of a name on a bill of lading relieved Irving Trust Co. of the duty to honor a letter of credit.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of appeals for the Second Circuit last week affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a suit filed against the New York bank brought by Dessaleng Beyene.

“We agree with the district court that the misspelling in this case was a material discrepancy that relieved Irving of its duty to pay the letter of credit,” Circuit Judge Amalya L. Kearse said in the opinion.

The facts in the case were undisputed by the two sides.

In March 1978, Mr. Beyene sold two prefabricated houses to Mohammed Sofan, a resident of the Yemen Arab Republic. Mr. Sofan attempted to finance the purchase with a letter of credit issued by the Yemen Bank for Reconstruction & Development in favor of Mr. Beyene.

The Yemen bank designated Irving Trust as the confirming bank for the letter of credit, and Mr. Beyene designated the National Bank of Washington as his collecting bank.

In may 1979, National Bank send Irving Trust all the documents required under the terms of the letter of credit. However, Irving Trust noted several discrepancies in the documents, including the fact that the bill of lading listed the party to be notified by the shipping company as Mohammed Soran instead of Mohammed Sofan.

An Irving Trust official notified National Bank of the discrepancy. It also requested authorization from the Yemen bank to pay the letter of credit despite the discrepancy. But the authorization was not forthcoming and Irving Trust refused to pay.

Mr. Beyene sued Irving Tust, seeking damages for its failure to pay the letter of credit.

The district court dismissed the suit on the sole ground that the misspelling of Mr. Sofan’s name on the bill of lading constituted a material discrepancy that gave Irving the right to refuse to honor the letter of credit. web site letter of credit

The plaintiff appealed the decision, claiming that the lower court’s ruling was “unsound as a matter of precedent and of policy.” The terms of a letter of credit generally require the beneficiary of the letter to submit to the issuing bank documents such as an invoice and a bill of lading to provide the buyer with some assurance that he will receive the goods for which he arranged payment, the court said.

“While some variations in a bill of lading might be so insignificant as not to relieve the issuing or confirming bank of its obligation to pay,” the appeals court’s ruling said, “we agree with the district court that a misspelling…was a material discrepancy that entitle Irving to refuse to honor the letter of credit.

The decision said the misspelling of Mr. Sofan’s name was not a case in which the name intended was “unmistakably clear” despite what was obviously a typographical error.


  1. Bruce Jakeway -  November 24, 2016 - 8:01 am

    I remember learning about suffixes and prefixes in grade school. I was asked about endure. I was sure that dure was a word (and thanks to dictionary.com it turns out to be, albeit archaic!), as during is also a word.

  2. Dave -  October 26, 2016 - 10:17 am

    My grandfather used the word “bunk” as a noun, to label a logical-sounding argument as being without merit. In this context, to “de-bunk” would be to expose the fallacies of such an argument, and thus remove its apparent legitimacy.

    • Dave -  October 26, 2016 - 10:41 am

      To get picky about my own post — Technically, you wouldn’t debunk the argument, but the conclusion. The argument would be the bunk, and thus you would be “removing the bunk” (invalidating the argument) that supported the conclusion.

  3. Inconvenient -  June 28, 2016 - 11:43 am

    All sounds pretty uncouth.

    This used to fit the list, but use and pressures over time added couth to most dictionairies.

    • a pig -  July 14, 2016 - 7:22 am

      shut up

  4. DanInAtlantaArea -  March 27, 2015 - 7:41 am

    I would like to add an action word in search of a negative version. I wrote in my documentation how data can be applied to a database file. I then created a note to myself that I needed to add a section on “unapplying” what was just applied. To my chagrin, no such word exists. Would anyone have a suggestion on a word or phrase to accomplish this need? Thanks to my fellow writers for all replies.

    • Dave -  October 26, 2016 - 10:23 am

      I typically use “revert” (as in “… to its original form”) for this purpose in my own technical writing.

  5. Prabhu -  November 22, 2014 - 10:59 pm

    Can I say I bunked classes? If this statement is wrong the please let me know the correct usage because in India we usually say “I bunked classes today”.

    Thanks and regards

    • Kevin -  June 4, 2015 - 5:32 am

      Prabhu, I suspect the phrase “I bunked classes” means that you slept through classes, choosing instead to stay in your bed or bunk and sleep. That’s a different meaning of the word bunk, and it sure makes sense to me! Not that I’m an expert on India. But I was quite an expert on “bunking classes” in my college days!

  6. Pookypooky -  January 18, 2014 - 11:54 am

    Yeh Ruth – reminds me of a goofy girl in my class.

  7. subsidiary -  April 9, 2013 - 8:46 pm

    What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively useful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to contribute & assist other users like its aided me. Good job.

  8. J.0rsoni -  November 20, 2011 - 12:16 pm

    The two letters «in» (whether as a prefix or not) can be understood or used with different meanings, at least in spoken language, and sometimes in an inspiring manner. Just an example – with a purely grammatical purpose in mind, of course :
    A young woman was invited by a much older man to marry him. The man assured her that in a married life with him, she would enjoy a beautiful house, private quarters, a couple of servants, touristic travels, and as much money as she could desire. Of course, she was interested, but nonetheless asked : «What about sex ? »
    Answer of the man : «Infrequently».
    Reply of the young woman : «In one word or two words ?»

  9. Kristi -  November 1, 2011 - 1:42 pm


  10. Bill Davis -  September 30, 2011 - 7:06 am

    Thought of another one…

    repeat (doesn’t mean to ‘peat’ again)

    And Zach, I think most of the commenters realize that. It’s the APPARENT negative of some words, PLUS the negation of archaic roots that adds up to the fun of thinking about this.

  11. Bill Davis -  September 29, 2011 - 6:23 pm

    I have smiled when noting the lack of the corresponding non-negated words:

    scrutable (easily interpreted)

    bilitate (to make strong)

    capitate (to add a head to)

    crease (not involving an iron, i.e. to make larger)

    base (to improve or exalt)

    generate (as in opposite of adj. degenerate)

    bark (as in opposite of debark, synonym of disembark)

    Turns out there IS a “clement,” the opposite of inclement. But when is the last time your weather station every predicted “clement weather”?

    • Bryan -  July 29, 2014 - 7:11 pm

      the more common notion for clement is in “being granted clemency” as in pardon from authority, or more literarily it’s reflected in the unbounded sweetness of clementines (ironically exploited in A Clockwork Orange, as if violence was a metric against the sweeter aspects of nature, his actual wife in the case of that book)

    • Terry -  November 5, 2014 - 6:16 am

      Crease would be the opposite of increase as well as decrease – both of which are opposites of each other. Perhaps then “crease” would simply mean to remain the same?

      • CV -  August 23, 2016 - 10:02 pm

        Why not simply a point wherein a change has taken place? It wouldn’t be so necessary as to preclude it from either but to have it apply to both, much like the idea of limits in Calculus. I think it appropriate as a crease in clothe or paper simply indicates an area of variance from its surround material.

  12. Sir Mike Tallon, PhD -  September 29, 2011 - 6:35 am

    In a somewhat related matter, I recently realized that while “pesky” is a word, there’s no such word as “pesk”, even though the word implies “being like a pesk”

    • Chris Baker -  April 9, 2016 - 2:40 am

      Just as there is apparently no word “pesty” for being a pest.

  13. Archon -  September 28, 2011 - 3:19 pm


  14. Barbara -  September 27, 2011 - 4:44 am

    Gormless, Gorm/gaum etc. Tek na gaum! (Yorkshire) Don’t take any notice! But Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary gives quite a few other meanings for gorm/gaum/gawm – nouns and verbs.
    In-telligent – try W.W. Skeat for this one, under keyword ‘Legend’: Inter – legere ‘choose between’ or, as someone once explained it to me ‘read between the lines’. Aren’t words wonderful!!

  15. Archon -  September 24, 2011 - 4:56 pm

    @ BK

    An annal is a report of a year’s duration, often for a company or political entity. A company’s yearly profit and loss statement is an annal. Lots of people read a single annal all the time, they just don’t describe it as such.

  16. JT -  September 24, 2011 - 7:39 am

    Consider deflower, a nice Victorian-sounding word. Is it now obs.; obsolete or obscene?

  17. Archon -  September 24, 2011 - 12:17 am

    @ Steve

    The opposite is getting (a) bill(s) for coins.
    Do you have a dollar bill for four quarters?
    That’s how you “change” coinage into paper money.

  18. Adam -  September 23, 2011 - 2:47 pm

    You can be overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, but not whelmed.

    Hmmm . . .

  19. Steve -  September 23, 2011 - 6:47 am

    What’s the opposite of getting change?
    Do you have “change” for a dollar?
    Do you have “______” for 4 quarters?

  20. Steve -  September 23, 2011 - 6:44 am

    I’m going to start acting chalant.

  21. tan -  September 21, 2011 - 9:33 pm

    @ zach
    Thank god, I had just about lost faith in everyones ability to critically analyse even one word.
    @ everybody else, please take more than three seconds to contemplate what you write before you post it. More than half the words suggested are complete rubbish. And please read all of the comments before you add one of your own. reading about whelm was boring the third time round, let alone the 8th.
    e.g. @ ophe, humurous, appreciated.
    @ andrea, furl is a common word, you clearly made no effort to check your work before posting it, now you appear unintelligent.

    • Chris Baker -  April 9, 2016 - 2:44 am

      Please try to be more ruly.

  22. Ophe -  September 20, 2011 - 3:22 pm

    @ zach’s comment..

    Many much moosen in the woodsen is it. xD

    Brian Regan ftw.

  23. Andrea -  September 20, 2011 - 8:13 am


    • Chris Baker -  April 9, 2016 - 2:45 am

      Furl is a perfectly good word in that you can unfurl and furl a flag, a scroll etc.

  24. Cyberquill -  September 20, 2011 - 5:20 am

    Flammable and inflammable can make for disastrous confusion.

  25. Jakben Imbel -  September 19, 2011 - 6:04 pm


  26. SummitPlummet -  September 19, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    Liberate & Deliberate

  27. Joe -  September 19, 2011 - 1:24 pm

    I don’t know about you, but I bunk things all the time.

  28. zach -  September 19, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    does it occur to anyone that the spelling of a word does not always imply that it has a prefix? ‘immune’ isn’t ‘mune’ with ‘im’ added to it. it’s just ‘immune’. a lot of our words appear to have an obvious root and prefix, but that isn’t necessarily so. the opposite of ‘prohibit’ isn’t ‘antihibit’ or just ‘hibit’… it’s ‘permit’. english grammar and word-construction rules arent absolute, owing a lot to its roots coming from multiple dissimilar languages. two of the biggest contributors to english are french and german, which have little in common despite their places of origin bordering on each other. and while our grammar and sentence structure more closely resembles german, we have few german-sourced words compared to other linguistic sources. there are only two words in english that even use the german method of pluralization – ‘children’ and ‘oxen’. if language rules were as stringent as many of the commenters here seem to think they are (or should be), we would say ‘childs’ and ‘oxes’. though i’m confident a good many people do say ‘oxes’, incorrect as it may be

    • The Guy -  May 6, 2016 - 5:28 am

      You hang your hat on the technical use of language but refuse to acknowledge the simple conventions of capital letters and proper punctuation. You may know what you are talking about but appear much less intelligent and my respect for your words goes down tenfold when you write like that.
      Why has this become trendy?

      • Ed Savage -  October 17, 2016 - 7:10 pm

        txtng – which is destroying the English language. That a Rap.

        • Ed Savage -  October 17, 2016 - 7:11 pm

          or rather “and”

  29. Cathy -  September 19, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    “Unwieldy” comes to mind, as does “nonchalant.”

  30. Chris -  September 19, 2011 - 11:09 am

    Disgruntled. If I’m happy, I’m “gruntled?”

  31. Wako -  September 19, 2011 - 11:00 am

    Out of whack… can someone be in whack?

    • leonard -  March 28, 2015 - 11:17 am

      I know a lot of folk who are Whack!

  32. Andrea -  September 19, 2011 - 10:29 am


  33. coldbear -  September 19, 2011 - 9:58 am

    I’ve heard the comments that Scott gave before about bunk & debunk, though I can’t recall where. But I just wanted to add that bunk, as a verb, has another meaning: “Informal . to occupy a bunk or any sleeping quarters: Joe and Bill bunked together at camp” (this is Dictionary.com’s definition). So I guess debunk would be to go elsewhere.

    Of course, this has nothing to do with the case at hand, but I thought it was interesting.

  34. Abberube -  September 19, 2011 - 8:45 am

    English is such a funny language. You park in your driveways and drive on your parkways.

    • Chris Baker -  April 9, 2016 - 2:48 am

      Yes, and you can ship cargo by truck.

  35. Vikhaary -  September 19, 2011 - 7:55 am

    For some reasons I seem to like the term DISGRUNTLED. Nostalgic, taking me back to the subtle summer sounds of loudness in Wimbledon grunt emissions from world renowned tennis players.
    By the way I need to apologize for my writing up above. I don’t thing I answered correctly. Then if the single word response is okay, the explanation was worse, perhaps. Forgive me.

  36. Chike -  September 19, 2011 - 7:39 am


  37. diane -  September 19, 2011 - 4:59 am


  38. Rev. Nagi -  September 19, 2011 - 4:46 am

    As George Carlin once so eloquently put it: “Flammable, inflammable, and non-inflammable. Why are there 3? I figure the thing either flams or it doesn’t flam?”
    He was a genius!

  39. Nichole -  September 19, 2011 - 4:34 am

    @ phil w – “irregardless” is an incorrect usage of the word regardless. I tend to hear southerners use it quite a bit. And I’m from PA, so a lot of Pittsburghians say it as well.

  40. Nichole -  September 19, 2011 - 4:31 am

    So, in speaking of suffixes, should “retarded” mean “tarded again”?

    And yes, I know that the word “retard” means to stunt or prevent from growing, but then again, I pose the question, what does “tard” mean? According to the dictionary, it’s just a derogatory slang term for someone who is acting retarded. So if you break the word down, it has no meaning.

    And there’s another one… if you take the “de” off of “derogatory”, what does rogatory mean?

    I think these words just go to show how diverse the english language is. We seemingly “make up” words to fit the descriptions we need them to, and we don’t necessarily use prefixes to negate words, in most cases, a word’s opposite is a totally different word.

    …well, that seemed obvious, didn’t it…

    • Prometheus -  May 7, 2015 - 8:53 pm

      Although the verb “to tard” is not used in English, there IS an adjective form: tardy.
      Just like how the verb stink is made into the adjective stinky.

      • act -  June 1, 2015 - 1:54 pm

        “Tard” refers to time (from French retardare)


        tardy: late; behind time; not on time

        retard, retarded:to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.
        However there is no tarded or protarded

        tardive: appearing or tending to appear late, as in human development or in the treatment of a disease.,

  41. Luck in W -  September 18, 2011 - 8:12 pm

    English language = strange language. For every rule there are exceptions. But then, I think all languages have these weird cases. I can remember using unfreeze instead of thaw after I came back from Europe.

    One of my names is Ruth. Since I went to the bother of finding out it’s meaning, I’ve always been pretty happy about its meaning.

  42. Archon -  September 18, 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Does anyone have the etymology for the British phrase, “done a bunk”? American equivalent, “took it on the lam”. I know why Bob’s yer uncle and Fannie’s yer aunt, and I know why he’s a proper Burke, but I just can’t seem to find why he done a bunk. Seems an upcountry usage, Northumbria, Yorkshire etc.

  43. maebyzoo -  September 18, 2011 - 4:42 pm

    Irregardless is a non-standard word. It is redundant. Regardless already means without regard. To add the “ir” is unnecessary.

  44. Raphael -  September 18, 2011 - 4:37 pm

    indefatigable (and infatigable)

    I’m sure there are plenty more I could think of – and I love the ones others have already suggested. :)

  45. maebyzoo -  September 18, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. The original word was inflammable, meaning something that could burn. (Think of “inflame,” which is to fuel an argument.) The word was so often confused by people thinking it meant something which could not flame, that flammable was created to clarify the flammability of something. Nonflammable is something which will not burn.

  46. kewlkiwi -  September 18, 2011 - 1:06 pm

    In the wake of the earthquakes here in Christchurch NZ, we’ve heard a lot about buildings being ‘deconstructed’ i.e. demolished or pulled down.
    Usually from politicians.

  47. Abe -  September 18, 2011 - 1:02 pm


  48. Abe -  September 18, 2011 - 12:57 pm


  49. leigh -  September 18, 2011 - 12:05 pm

    @ Phil w

    there is no such word as ‘irregardless’

  50. Don -  September 18, 2011 - 10:29 am

    Inert. Can a substance be “ert”?

  51. Marlon -  September 18, 2011 - 9:59 am

    You can discuss something, why can’t you cuss it?
    You can unearth something, why can’t you earth it?

  52. invokethehojo -  September 18, 2011 - 9:19 am

    My friends and I used whelmed quite often, as a joke.

    I always wondered if something could be poned since it can be postponed.

  53. Dave -  September 18, 2011 - 9:12 am

    The first one of these words I noticed was ‘embark’. I noticed that ‘bark’ has cognates in other modern European languages that mean boat, so why doesn’t this word ever stand alone in modern English for this meaning? It’s a cooler sounding word than ‘boat’.

    • Prometheus -  May 7, 2015 - 8:41 pm

      Maybe “barge” is English’s cognate for bark.

  54. Dave -  September 18, 2011 - 9:08 am

    Gust is a word. It’s just not the opposite of disgust, at least not anymore. It originally meant ‘taste’, so the idea behind ‘a gust of wind’ was essentially a little lick of it. Disgust, by the same token, meant having lost your taste or appetite for something.

  55. Roberto M -  September 18, 2011 - 8:38 am

    Immune. If you are susceptible to a certain virus, are you mune to it?

  56. will reimann -  September 18, 2011 - 8:02 am

    I’ve always enjoyed fantasizing about working in a firm filled with fully gruntled employees. Also I’ve wondered about the history of its uses, and from what language did it originate?

  57. Dave -  September 18, 2011 - 7:56 am

    I’ve always wondered why we always read about disgruntled employees but never hear about the gruntled employees!

  58. Dean -  September 18, 2011 - 5:27 am

    ept and inept

  59. Glen -  September 18, 2011 - 5:19 am

    gorm and gormless

  60. Jan Sahita -  September 18, 2011 - 4:09 am

    Wonderful blog, very knowledgeable discussion. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Thea -  September 18, 2011 - 4:06 am

    Gormless…..I’ve tried looking up Gorm in Webster’s dictionary and fail to find it. Can one be gormful? (And not completely on the same track, but why is a good person ‘sweet’, but a bad person ‘unsavory’?)

  62. Archon -  September 18, 2011 - 12:34 am

    With all due respect to George Carlin, he didn’t know what he was talking about! His comedy bit listed THREE words, flammable, inflammable, and non-inflammable. Apparently he slept through non-flammable, or he’d have known that there were FOUR words, not three. Read the above article again, where it says that sometimes “in” simply means “in” (not a negative.) This is an example of nuance and degree. Flammable and inflammable mean only approximately the same thing. The “in” at the front of inflammable means that something will burst in(to) flames. It’s a matter of urgency. Flammable merely means that it will produce flames. A block of wood is flammable. A bucket of gasoline is inflammable.

  63. Nicole C -  September 17, 2011 - 7:14 pm

    “whelmed” as in overwhelmed

  64. Kristie Francis -  September 17, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    How about distracted, unnerved, deranged, delighted, demented, deluded, depraved, disappointed, destroyed, distraught, disgusted, dismayed, disrupted … that’s enough for now – I don’t want to take all the easy ones! Kristie

    • Madison -  February 4, 2016 - 2:07 pm

      Look them up

  65. Dick Grayson -  September 17, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    If you can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, can you be just “whelmed”?

  66. RayS -  September 17, 2011 - 4:30 pm

    Cleave – meaning both ‘cling’ and ‘cut apart’.

    ‘Resent’ originally meant the opposite – to appreciate.

  67. Songsteel -  September 17, 2011 - 4:08 pm


  68. phil w -  September 17, 2011 - 4:05 pm

    irregardless , regardless !

  69. Alice -  September 17, 2011 - 3:47 pm


  70. Pedro -  September 17, 2011 - 3:19 pm

    Interesting how something that is flammable is also inflammable. The late great comedian George Carlin had a bit in his act about this topic.

  71. Brian -  September 17, 2011 - 2:00 pm


  72. Scott -  September 17, 2011 - 12:58 pm

    Disclaimer: I’m not a linguist, so I apologize if I’m not using the correct terms here, but “Debunk” is to “Bunk” as “Defang” is to “Fang” — they are verbs that refer to the removal of the root noun. And in fact, the origin of Bunk is older than 1923 — and quite interesting.

    Bunk comes from “bunkum,” which in turn comes from Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA. In the early 1800′s there was a congressman, Felix Walker, whose district included Buncombe County. During debate on the Missouri Compromise, just prior to when the vote was to take place, Mr. Walker delivered a long and rambling speech. Thereafter his speech “for Buncombe County” became “Bunkum,” later shortened to “Bunk,” meaning empty or nonsensical political speech (and eventually lost the political connotation). “Debunk” then came later.

    Oh, and on topic: I’ve always been a fan of “Reckless,” and have referred to careful people and procedures as “Reckful” (much to the confusion of others).

    • Kevin -  June 4, 2015 - 5:55 am

      Scott, thank you for correcting, or at least supplementing, the article’s explanation of “debunk.” I was about to post what you did. Perhaps William Woodward coined the word, although I doubt it. As “bunkum” had already become a popular word 100 years earlier, I suspect it had been shortened to “bunk” well before Woodward wrote his book. Even if no one had ever thought of the word “debunk” before (which I find highly unlikely), the background story predates Woodward’s book by a century. Today, if you visit Asheville, N.C., the beautiful county seat of Buncombe County (which I highly encourage anyone to do!), there is a plaque on a large stone near the Co-op that commemorates Felix Walker. It is labeled “The Bunkum Stone,” the story of which sounds suspiciously like something a creative local marketer invented, but I’ll leave that claim for someone else to debunk. :) Congressman Walker’s role in the origination of the word bunkum is very well documented.

  73. Ben Tolbert -  September 17, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    interesting article. Unexpected.

  74. clivebeesley -  September 17, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    omnibus and ofthebus!!

  75. Grace -  September 17, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    How about repeat and rejoice?

  76. Joel Mussman -  September 17, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Overwhelmed, underwhelmed, but while the word actually exists (look it up on Dictionary.com!) I have yet to meet anyone who is just “whelmed.”

  77. Dieter -  September 17, 2011 - 11:38 am

    Well, Simon, the word kempt does in fact exist, meaning tidy or well-combed. But, guess what, it is an invention after the event, it is a back-formation. Somebody thought if there is an unkempt, there must be a kempt and promptly created it. So, an orphan negative is not the end of the world.
    Furthermore, the original unkempt goes back in time via Middle English to Old German meaning in fact “uncombed”

  78. coral -  September 17, 2011 - 11:21 am


  79. Mitchell S -  September 17, 2011 - 11:15 am


  80. Dicky -  September 17, 2011 - 10:59 am


  81. Larry -  September 17, 2011 - 10:36 am

    Flammamable and inflammable mean the same thing.

  82. DEBUNKMORE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 17, 2011 - 10:03 am

    [...] by all this junk. — Exhausted now,  there’s no other choice but to Return Again to ‘Debunk’. –>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme [...]

  83. bruce -  September 17, 2011 - 9:53 am

    I’m always surprised that “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing.

  84. Shooting Parrots -  September 17, 2011 - 9:43 am

    I agree with BurlEv that ‘ruthless’ is the example that instantly springs to mind, although at least there are lots of people called Ruth to remind us of the opposute meaning.

    I’m not sure I agree with ineffable — effable is perfectly speakable!

  85. DEBUNK | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 17, 2011 - 9:24 am

    [...] went to ‘Debunk’ Wit Delice — It was Hot so we need not De-ice. ‘Dejected’ we went back there [...]

  86. bholland -  September 17, 2011 - 9:20 am

    How about “antidisestablishmentarianism”?

  87. Vikhaari -  September 17, 2011 - 8:42 am

    Yes, I use the etimology always or I will neither recognize nor remember many words. Forexample in today’s hotword insipid, which I had difficulty remembering before, and now after having learnt the roots and other such, I hope I won’t.
    You see my mothertongue is Bengali; Bengali originates from Sanskrit. Now from above insipid I learned the meaning is bad taste. I also learned that sapid is tasteful. In Bengali swaad is taste (the local spelling is as such that the w must be there or it cannot be). Now I have no excuse to forget the meaning of insipid. Because of all these I enjoy Dictionary.com.
    And by the for some reason I think that all the languages have unique source.

  88. Jeff -  September 17, 2011 - 8:39 am


  89. intp -  September 17, 2011 - 8:38 am

    the evolution of the word democracy especially in the U.S.

  90. Ravi -  September 17, 2011 - 8:26 am

    Inflammable means…. flammable!!!

  91. Xeni Zondich -  September 17, 2011 - 8:20 am

    How about, you can be overwhelmed, underwhelmed but the word ‘whelmed’ isn’t possible?

  92. jack lane -  September 17, 2011 - 8:06 am


  93. bk -  September 17, 2011 - 8:01 am

    There are also the words which only appear in the plural, like annals. Who’s ever read a single annal?

  94. Su Leone -  September 17, 2011 - 7:24 am

    couth and uncouth

  95. Simone -  September 17, 2011 - 6:47 am

    Flammable and inflammable

  96. pelicanjohn -  September 17, 2011 - 5:56 am

    I should have postponed this comment, but, since I did it ahead of schedule, did I prepone it, or just pone it?

    • Prometheus -  May 7, 2015 - 8:47 pm

      You pwned it.

  97. CR -  September 17, 2011 - 5:49 am

    “Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” – Douglas Adams

  98. J -  September 17, 2011 - 5:16 am

    I believe the dutch would be raFelen, with an F

  99. Stuart -  September 17, 2011 - 4:22 am

    Effable is a word

  100. Bart -  September 17, 2011 - 4:21 am


  101. Firdaus Firlany -  September 17, 2011 - 4:10 am

    How about the term, “inevitable”? There’s no such word as evitable right?

  102. ccrow -  September 17, 2011 - 4:07 am

    This seems like a good time to share this:

    A very Descript Man …. J H Parker

    I am such a dolent man,
    I eptly work each day;
    My acts are all becilic,
    I’ve just ane things to say.

    My nerves are strung, my hair is kempt,
    I’m gusting and I’m span:
    I look with dain on everyone
    And am a pudent man.

    I travel cognito and make
    A delible impression:
    I overcome a slight chalance,
    With gruntled self-possession.

    My dignation would be great
    If I should digent be:
    I trust my vagance will bring
    An astrous life for me.

  103. Sandy Salmansohn -  September 17, 2011 - 4:03 am

    Inflammable and flammable.

  104. john rhea -  September 17, 2011 - 3:13 am


  105. Sparkess -  September 17, 2011 - 1:34 am


  106. Danielle -  September 17, 2011 - 1:26 am


  107. BeurreBlanc -  September 16, 2011 - 11:41 pm

    I do remember an English cricket commentator referring to a disaffected player being “not entirely gruntled”.

  108. Adam -  September 16, 2011 - 10:21 pm

    Overwhelmed. Although, I really like these kinds of words, because they allow for so many fun puns!

  109. Zac -  September 16, 2011 - 9:03 pm


  110. Kathleen -  September 16, 2011 - 8:35 pm

    pulchritudinous :) it means beautiful but it sounds like a trashy word.

  111. Marlon -  September 16, 2011 - 8:15 pm


  112. Marlon -  September 16, 2011 - 8:13 pm


  113. LR -  September 16, 2011 - 7:39 pm

    Love this! I’ve been wondering about this kind of thing for a long time.

  114. Stevie -  September 16, 2011 - 7:36 pm

    @BurlEv: “Ruth” is defined as regret or pity (as in “to rue the day….”), therefore to be “ruthless” is to be without regret/pity/remorse.

  115. Steve -  September 16, 2011 - 6:16 pm

    overwhelmed, underwhelmed, but whelmed?
    disconcerted vs concerted?

  116. Random Person -  September 16, 2011 - 5:58 pm

    One word that’s always gotten me is the word ‘inflammable’.

  117. Lauren -  September 16, 2011 - 5:56 pm

    This reminds me of the scene in the movie Ten Things I Hate About You when Bianca says something like: “I know you can be overwhelmed and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”

  118. Amy Hisey -  September 16, 2011 - 5:50 pm

    What about “uncouth”?

  119. Pathor -  September 16, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    I had never really thought about it in that way but it makes sense.

  120. Vanessa -  September 16, 2011 - 4:56 pm

    pity or compassion.
    sorrow or grief.
    self-reproach; contrition; remorse.

    Interesting, that was one I haven’t thought about much. Some that I like are interesting (teresting=boring?) and intelligent (telligent=stupid?).

  121. AnWulf -  September 16, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    @BurlEv … There is ruthful!
    1. compassionate or sorrowful.
    2. causing or apt to cause sorrow or pity.
    3. feeling remorse or self-reproach.

    Debunk means to take the bunk out (bunk as in nonsense). If you wanted to put the bunk in … guess you’d have to say inbunk.

  122. SquareGuy -  September 16, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    I don’t know how these words ended up being “contrary to your expectation”. While “ruth”, the root of “ruthless” is rarely ever used, the other 2 suggestions given come from root words that are very common.

    The word “unkempt” means that something is not cared for or messy, and its root “kempt” means the opposite.

    A “disclaimer” is a statement denouncing responsibility for something, such as the lyrical contents of a music album. The root of this being “claim” which is to accept responsibility for something.

  123. petic -  September 16, 2011 - 3:19 pm


  124. Simon Dunn -  September 16, 2011 - 1:18 pm


  125. Simon Dunn -  September 16, 2011 - 1:17 pm


  126. BurlEv -  September 16, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    I think about the original meaning of “ruth” every time I hear the word “ruthless.”


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