A prefix is a very common tool to change the character and usage of a word. I could bang on about the dictionary definitions of a prefix but I’m disinclined (see slipped one in there).
I’ve wondered over the years about the more obscure words which appear to have a prefix and what use the word could be without it.
If you dislocate your knee and a healthcare professional puts it back in, have they relocated it? If your cat disappears and then hours later appears, well thats obvious. When a submarine goes under water it submerges only to surface or emerge from the ocean depths. These are all regular understandable words with a prefix lobbed on the front to indicate something is wrong, under, before, not and so on. Its the words that seem very weird without the prefix which make me wonder.
Discombobulate – to confuse or disconcert. How often do we ever use the word combobulate (presumably to make clear or simplify). To be fair how often do we ever use discombobulate in everyday speech but you get my point. In fact to disconcert makes me wonder how often we concert issues in order to clarify them?
If you are angry in a smouldering kind of way, one could describe oneself as being disgruntled. But who has ever describe themselves as being gruntled? Presumably you have no argument with anyone and the cares of the world are not weighing heavily upon you. I would love to describe myself on a good day as being extremely gruntled.
If you have your doubts about where I’m going you may well have misgivings. But there again if you can see what I’m getting at, you will therefore have givings.
There are words that have a prefix but don’t necessarily stand out, such as mischief. Would you ever describe a person who doesn’t exhibit playful misbehaviour as getting up to chief? They won’t be doing anything.
Please don’t be dismayed at my ramblings. I’d much rather you hang in there and be more mayed about it all. After all it wouldn’t be a disaster if you did. It may well be an aster, but thats a plant so you can’t be a plant can you ? Sage words indeed, ah erm.
I find the English language a beautiful construction. I’m no expert in its use as you may have guessed. It is a truly gusting thing. Because the alternative would be, yes you get where i’m going. The English language has been built using words from all over the world. The interpretation and adaptation of particularly French and Latin words have added greatly to the wealth of words available to us. Dishevelled – meaning having a messed up or scruffy appearance derives from the old French word deschevele meaning shaven headed. Still it would be great to describe a smart dresser as being very shevelled wouldn’t it?
I’m sure many of you lay awake a night thinking about impending global conflict, world poverty, relationship issues. Me, I think about being gruntled, mayed, and presenting myself to the world in a very shevelled manner.
Hope this is combobulated now.