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December 29, 2012 / benrovik

An Open Letter to the Masters of the English Language 5

Dear Overlords,

What’s the name for the category of words that sound nothing like what they represent?  That create an impression directly counter to the associations of the things they define?

Contranyms?  Wrongophones?  Malalogues?

At any rate, here are a few words on which you completely dropped the proverbial ball:

  • Crepuscular.  I don’t think Twilight when I hear that, I think Feed.  How can a word for a time of day sound like a word H.P. Lovecraft would use to describe one of his slithering horrorbeasts?
  • Pulchritude.  If I thought someone was beautiful and I called them pulchritudinous, I guarantee I would be slapped and possibly cried at.  And I would curse my SAT prep classes for having ever made me think such a defective word could actually work in the real world.
  • Xenial.  I just don’t associate the letter X with friendliness.  And I’m angry at this word in general ever since someone used it against me in Words With Friends.

Please expunge these words from the lexicon forthwith.



PS Hey readers– any words out there that grind your gears?


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