I’m Ruth and I’m Gruntled

August 25, 2008

We were talking the other day about something I’ve always found fascinating: words that seemingly have no opposite — or at least, an opposite that’s rarely, if ever, used.

I first thought of this years ago, reading something by H.L. Mencken in which he described a baby as “gruntled.” In all my years of reading and talking, that’s the only time I’ve ever come across that word. Yet people are commonly described as disgruntled.

You do sometimes hear about someone displaying couth, but have you ever referred to a careful person as reck? Is a kind and gentle business leader ruth? If your roof springs a leak, would you say it’s pervious to rain?

Got any other examples?