In May I listed 11 Words You Hear Only When Paired With a Certain Other Word. So for instance you never hear “kilter” unless it’s after the word, “off”. I also include words with prefixes that are more common than the root word itself (e.g. subordinate/ordinate).
I thought of 11 more and here they are.
Impeccable-While you’re likely to hear someone say, “His manner of dress was impeccable.”. What you don’t hear is, “Yikes. Talk about a peccable outfit. Good lord.”
Not Necessarily- The only time I’ve heard “necessarily” used without “not” preceding it was in dealing with logic problems in philosophy and cognitive psychology courses in school. Anyone with experience in these fields knows the context I heard it in was, “Therefore, it necessarily follows that…..”.
I try to work necessarily into my vernacular, as in, “I had a few drinks before the pizza finally came to our table, so necessarily I burnt my mouth on it.”
Don’t Dawdle- As a kid my mother issued this directive to my sister and me a million times. But nobody says, “I’m 20 minutes early so I guess I’ll dawdle.”
You may hear the verb in gerund form (dawdling) by itself, but rarely dawdle.
Insurmountable– You’re more likely to hear someone say that something “isn’t insurmountable” before you hear someone say it’s “surmountable”.
Non Sequitur- This is Latin for “it does not follow”, and is heard most often when dealing with logic problems. Which type of logic problems by name, you ask? Syllogisms. My inner Beavis and I are psyched to have worked that word into a list.
Anyway, an example of a non-sequitur would be, “Last week my dad saw a moose in his backyard, so that explains why the mentally handicap love sweatpants so much.”. That’s a non sequitur. But conversely, after you hear a really excellent point that logically follows, no one ever says, “That’s a big time sequitur, dude!”. Hipsters, make it happen!
Indefatigable– There comes a time in many teenager’s lives where this word spends some time as the biggest word they know. And it is a big word, to be sure, but it never impresses the grown ups because it lives only in the “big word” realm and not in the colloquial realm- everyone knows it’s a good example of a big word, but no one uses it.
So I’m proposing some addition by subtraction for the teenagers: I’d be more impressed if I heard someone work, “fatigable” into a sentence, than I would indefatigable. Just think how much mileage sports announcers could get out of that word.
Hunker Down- Now I love a good hunkerin’ as much as the next guy, but I’m tired of always seeing it paired with “down”. In fairness to hunker, it means “crouch”, so it makes sense that it’s paired with “down” but it’s also tiresome. You’d think a wedding photographer could once say, “Ok, shorter people hunker in the front, taller people standing in the back.”.
One time I’d like to sit on a forklift that’s resting on the ground, then as the forklift is getting raised, I’d begin the hunkering process. Once the forklift is, say, 7 feet off the ground I’d be fully hunkered on my laurels while 7 feet off the ground, thereby successfully hunkering up.
Batten Down the Hatches- You call your mom and tell her that an enormous thunderstorm is rapidly approaching and what does she tell you to do? Why, batten down the hatches, of course.
Oddly, the verb’s alternative meaning is to fatten or feed gluttonously. Maybe “batten” is just a contraction of bad-fatten??! I doubt it
but that would be awesome.
Tumult- Sometimes you’ll hear an event described as “tumultuous”, but it’s much more rare to hear someone say an event was laden with “tumult”. And, when you hear the word “laden” does it make you think of a ladle? It does for me.
Unparalleled: If someone is in a class by themselves, you may say that they are unparalleled. But when someone else joins that elite company, no one ever says, “They have just paralleled one of the all-time greats…”
Uncanny- So “canny” means clever or shrewd, whereas “uncanny” hints at the supernatural. The way the prefixes kinda fool you reminds me of ordinary and extraordinary. You’d think “extra ordinary” would mean VERY ordinary, just like you’d think “uncanny” means un-clever, but that’s just not how it goes.
It turns out a lot of my guy friends have been using “canny” incorrectly for years, as they were under the impression it meant a girl with big cans. Ironically, a lot of those girls weren’t very clever/shrewd at all.