Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rootless Words List

We speak of people as "ruthless," but we don't speak of them as "ruthful" or as having "ruth." (Well, no one I know does this other than my brother Tony!) We also call people "inept," but do we call anyone "ept?"

It seems root words like "ruth" and "ept" must have been around first and that then suffixes and prefixes were attached, and we've kept the lengthened words but not the original roots.

Maybe I'm wrong. Feel free to correct me if I am, but if you can't or until someone does, will you help us add to our of "rootless words" by leaving others you know of in the comments section. (David gets credit for this idea.)

1) RUTHless
2) inEPT

We would have included "unwieldy" but looked it up and "wieldy" is a word. I guess it's just not used as much as the other. Perhaps "wieldy" is on its way to being a lost root.


Anonymous said...

Actually the word "ruthless" is middle-english in origin, refering to the biblical story of Ruth; the theme of the story being kindness, love, and redemption. To say someone is ruthless is to literally say that that person is unlike Ruth; cruel, unforgiving, and unloving. (Ruth+less) By the same token, someone could be described as ruthful if they were like Ruth in attribute. (Ruth+Full)
I guess there were a lot more mean people around in those days so ruthful fell out of fashion.

Uncle D

Heidi said...

Cool! I figured it was related - as my brother-in-law who speaks of people who are without "ruth" also says, "Call me Mara for I am bitter."

Mostly this happens when we are playing cards.

Bummer that "ruthful" fell out of fashion. Perhaps we can bring it back in again - with word and actions!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the late thought, but I came up with one when I used "unfurl" in a sentence today and remembered your post. While "furl" may still be used in some circles, I don't think I've heard it used much in my lifetime.

Steve B (in Grand Rapids)