Thursday, December 15, 2011

When does "Horrific" mean "Great"?

There's one quirk of the English language that has bothered me for quite some time, and until now I haven't really had a great forum to get it off my chest. I know the esteemed readers of the Neon Colored Can of Worms blog will appreciate the complaining (at least, moreso than my less intelectual friends).

Let's set up an analogy.

Terrible : Terrific :: Horrible : Horrific

In SAT terms, this would be fales. Quite false, in fact - Terrible and Terrific are antonyms, whilest Horrible and Horrific are synonyms.

But when viewed from the mile-high guise of a syntax-ographer, it's absolutely true.

Take the words Terrible and Terrific. Cut the "Terr" (which is odd in and of itself, meaning "three" or "earth," depending on which r you cut off at) and you're left with "ible" and "ific" ("rible and rific").

Replace each "Terr" with a "Horr," the same root, and all of a sudden the two antonyms are synonyms.

Who's got an answer?

No comments:

Post a Comment