January 16th, 2010

bundled up, walkabout, snow


LJ Idol Season 6 - Week 10 - Open Topic

I'm easily distracted. In computer terms, my interrupt processor works great, but when it comes time to pop the stack, the stack got cleared.

The most common way I get distracted is to trip up on the words themselves. I'll be babbling along to someone and interrupt myself to talk about a word I just used. Often, it'll be one of my pet not-a-words. Ept, for instance. It turns out, after doing a little research, that the root for inept is actually apt, so a person who's especially capable is apt, not ept.

3. unusually intelligent; able to learn quickly and easily: an apt pupil.

I've a personal fascination for words that we use more often in the modified state than the root itself. I've gotten used to just assuming that the root word isn't a word on its own anymore. Last week, when I was complimented someone on being particularly well put together, I called her "kempt," and then I distracted myself by speculating on whether kempt is a word with the modifier, un. In my defense, the Apple spell checker doesn't think kempt is a word. However, on researching the matter, I've found kempt in dictionary.com.

1. neatly or tidily kept: a kempt little cottage.
2. combed, as hair.

Her hair wasn't kempt, but the rest of her was. ;)

And this is where the dictionary game really gets my goat. Alternative definitions. Not so much the alternative definitions for a single word, but the definitions so widely variant as to mark it a wholly different word. As I listened to a recent podiobook, the repeated references to the hapless protagonist triggered me into thinking about hapless and then hap. I've never heard the word used, so I assumed it was in the same category with ept and kempt. It turns out that not only is hap a word, it's two words. And to be argumentative, I'd have to say the story was rife with his haps. (def. 2)

hap: 1
1. one's luck or lot.
2. an occurrence, happening, or accident.
–verb (used without object)
3. to happen: if it so hap.

hap: 2 Chiefly Pennsylvania.
1. a comforter or quilt.
–verb (used with object)
2. to cover with or as with a comforter or quilt.

I think the next time I get myself all wildered with words, I should just hap myself and read a good book.

wil⋅der: 1 Archaic.
–verb (used with object)
1. to cause to lose one's way.
2. to bewilder.
–verb (used without object)
3. to lose one's way.
4. to be bewildered.

wild⋅er: 2
comparative of wild.


This entry was written for inclusion in The Real LJ Idol writing competition on Live Journal, Topic 10: Open Topic.