That word

HISTORICAL NOTE, April 8, 2022: This post was saved as a draft on August 18, 2015, but never published. I think I wanted the list to be longer. I no longer feel this need, so enjoy!

Words that don’t mean what some people may think they mean:

  • Bemused. It sounds like “amused” so maybe it’s a synonym. It means perplexed or bewildered.
  • Penultimate. Some may think this means “uber-ultimate”. It actually means next to last.
  • Arid. This one gets confused with arable (fit for cultivation) but means pretty much the opposite in that it refers to land that is very dry. Like a desert or all of California, for example.
  • Inflammable. This is perhaps the perfect example of crazy English. If you think it’s like invisible and thus means “not flammable” you’d be wrong because it actually means flammable. What does flammable mean, then? The same thing. Why? English! Actually, you can blame the Latin origins, which treat the words similarly.

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