Negative Words

In English, the prefixes in and un, along with others, are used to negate certain root words. The antonym of sane, for example, is insane, while the antonym of stoppable is unstoppable. However, some words that appear to be negated with prefixes have no positive. The opposite of inchoate, for example, is not choate - there is no such word.


Words With No Positive Forms

debunkdefenestratedejecteddisconsolatedishevelleddismantle
dismayeddisparatefecklessgormlessimpetuousimpromptu
inaneincessantinchoateincognitoincommunicadoindomitable
ineffableinertinfernalinhibitedinnocentinnocuous
insidiousinsipidinsouciantintactinvertmisgivings
misnomernonchalantnoncommittalnondescriptnonpareilnonplussed
unbeknownstunnervedunscathedunswervinguntold 


Words With Uncommon Positive Forms

The following words do have positives, formed by removing the negating prefix,
but the positive forms of these words are very rare or have fallen into disuse

disarraydisconcertingimmaculateimpeccableinadvertentincapacitated
incorrigibleineptinevitableinscrutableinsensateinsufferable
interminablerecklessunbridleduncouthunflappableunfurl
ungainlyunkemptunmitigatedunrequitedunrulyunthinkable
untowardunwieldy    


Special Cases

An interesting special case is indefatigable, whose antonym is not defatigable but rather fatigable.
The word
inflammable is another interesting special case. Stripping off the prefix does not create an antonym but rather a synonym: flammable. This idiosyncrasy of English seems insidious (!) until one realises that the prefix in means something else in this case; the word inflammable means 'able to be inflamed.'


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