Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Synonymn* (for Synonym*)

I have an odd love of synonyms that seem like they should be opposites, but aren’t. Flammable and inflammable are the classic pair: it’s easy to assume the in- in inflammable means not, as it does in involuntary, invisible, or inarticulate – the opposite of flammable. But the prefix in-, in this case, actually comes from the Latin in as in “in” rather than in as in “not” (think indoctrinate, involve).

Are you with me yet? I thought about adding a few more quotation marks up there but quickly gave up. As it is, I’m going to be seeing ins in my dreams tonight.

In addition (now I can’t stop), while I was double-checking my facts on flammable versus inflammable, I quite enjoyed the sidebar advertisements generated by my internet sleuthing. Thanks to ads, I now know far more about how to make handheld fireballs than I ever cared to (the most important thing I learned? Don’t try it at home).

Synonymn* is a high probability typo (it’s easy to slip on that extra n while typing), occurring 75 times in Worldcat.

Leanne Olson

(Inflammable/flammable image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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