Monday, February 21, 2011

Suck It, Word-A-Day Calendars

Madison's postponed to tomorrow; roads are too uncertain. Last night it was literally snow on top of ice on top of snow, and it does me no good going into Madison if I'm just going to wind up in a ditch outside Marshall. So, we'll give it a day, let the roads get cleared, they should be good tomorrow.

In the meantime, let's make the most of it here. Let's learn some words. There are a lot of ways to do this: hear a new word in normal conversation, poke through the dictionary, the aforementioned word-a-day calendars.

Today we are doing none of those things. We're going to be dirty rotten cheating cheaters about it. This is the brute-force method, if you will.

What I want you to do is to think of a word that has a prefix. Actually, think of a bunch of them. Un-, in-, im-, sub-, dis-, de-, an-, non-, ex-, re-, whatever. Here's a big list of prefixes. Go nuts.

Now lop off that prefix.

Do you recognize the word now? If you do, pick another word and go again. If not, you just learned a word. (Probably. As with most English rules, there are always exceptions. Sometimes that prefix-looking sequence of letters isn't a prefix at all but an integral part of the word. Sometimes a word clearly does have a prefix, but then the root word isn't a word.)

A couple examples to get you started:

Coordinator---Ordinator (one who ordains, a director)
Disgruntled---Gruntled (in good humor)
Deodorant---Odorant (something that creates an odor)
Innocuous---Nocuous (likely to cause harm)
Unabashed---Abashed (to be shamed, to be guilted)
Degree---Gree (a prize or favor; alternatively, a step or rank)

Your turn. I'm not going to do all the work for you.

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