exhibit your inhibitions

A few nights ago I had the sudden, crystal-clear thought that inhibition and exhibition should have opposite meanings, but don’t – or maybe they do. They mean ‘to hold in’ and ‘to hold out’ respectively, but we usually hold in feelings, thoughts and behaviour, and hold out behaviour (often to express feelings and thoughts) and artistic/creative works. I can’t have an inhibition of my paintings in my own lounge room, though if I express my feelings and thoughts through my paintings, I might exhibit my inhibitions.

I thought of and jotted down several other similar pairs, which I was going to explore at length, then decided not to: impress and express, impose and expose, intend and extend, and implore and explore, which are all Latinate. (Indeed my use of explore in the last sentence was deliberate.) Related to these are the Germanic income and outcome (and outgo, but not ingo) (but compare Dutch and German ingang). Compare the very definitely opposite: include and exclude, import and export, and immigrate and emigrate (and migrate). 

Which raises another point: hibit, plore and clude are not words, while press, pose, tend, come and migrate are, whose relationships to the in-/im– and ex-/e– words is clearer in some cases and less clear in others.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s