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