If it's Ok, I want to post something short, silly and yet perhaps thought provoking.
I've been thinking about heterological words today. I know. I know. You're probably saying to yourself, "Yeah, I do that all the time." But for any of you who don't: a homological word is one that applies to itself, like 'English' or, perhaps, 'pedantic' or 'grandiose,' or 'multisyllabic.' A heterological word is one, by contrast, that does not apply to itself. Like 'monosyllabic.' Today on Twitter someone posted my favorite pair of heterological words:
These make me smile. And Ok, I almost giggle. Maybe I'm too easy to please. Other more mundane examples of heterologicality would include 'Russian' which is not a Russian word, and 'dirty' which is quite clean, as words go. Now, as a matter of fact, most words are clearly heterological. Most adjectives don't apply to themselves and most nouns don't, either. 'Cat' isn't a cat. 'Pink' isn't pink. And so most ordinary heterologicality is fairly boring, however remotely risqué it might sound to anyone who doesn't get out enough. But some instances of it are more interesting, and for various reasons. For example, 'verb' isn't a verb but a noun. And that tweaks me somehow. Moreover, 'uppercase' isn't at all what it denotes. Of course, the same is true of 'LOWERCASE' - but it seems to work a bit too hard to get its similar status.
Do you have any favorites? Homological or Heterological?
Fun Cosmic Bonus Question: Is 'heterological' itself heterological or not?
Postscript: I get a big kick out of stuff like this. So I've presented these ideas orally to some smart normal people today, and all I got in return were fairly blank stares, or other forms of non-reaction. I guess I need to get some better material. I'd hate to be the sort of guy who comes to be known for thinking that words like 'entertaining' or 'hilarious' are even remotely homological.