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12 negative words without opposites

3d white people leaning back against a question mark

One can be cool or uncool, fooled or unfooled, but can one be disgusted and gusted? Nope.

Mental Floss’ Judith B Herman found twelve words that live the lonely life without an opposite to keep things interesting.

Poor, lonely words.


(Via French or Italian, from Latin dis– ‘expressing reversal’ + gustāre ‘to taste.’)

English adopted only the negative version, leaving us without the useful expression, ”That gusts me.”


(From the late Middle English word, now obsolete, ‘dishevely,’ which derives from Old French deschevelé, past participle of descheveler, based on chevel, ‘hair,’ from Latin capillus. Originally it meant ‘having the hair uncovered’ and later it referred to the hair itself, hanging loose, and so messy or untidy.)

You can be disheveled without ever being “sheveled.” It’s pronounced /di-SHEH-vuhld/, not as you sometimes hear it, /dis-HEH-vuhld/.


(From late Latin in– ‘not’ + scrūtārī ‘to search or examine thoroughly’ + -able. Scrūtārī comes from scrūta)

Inscrutable refers to “something that cannot be searched into or found out by searching; unfathomable, entirely mysterious.” But you’ll search harder to find the word scrutable; it’s used mostly in opposition to inscrutable.

Full story at Mental Floss.

Language oddities.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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