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Gruntled and Disgruntled

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Nathan, a sailor at the United States Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, reports a vigorous dispute among his fellow servicemembers: Is gruntled a word? Nathan feels gruntled must be a word, arguing that it’s clearly the opposite of disgruntled. But it’s more complicated than that. Disgruntled is one of several terms, known as orphaned words or unpaired negatives, which look like they should have a commonly used opposite, but don’t. Others are unruly and ruly, unkempt and kempt, and inert and ert. Writer J.H. Parker played  with this discrepancy in a poem called “A Very Descript Man.This is part of a complete episode.

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1 comment
  • Ooooh–We’ve been using a dictionary to check the list of “unpaired” words offered here and find that several of them are indeed paired!

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