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.


“I dain you”

A character in a professionally-produced video drama (no names, no blames) said deign, but the subtitles had dain. Realistically, I have to call that a mistake, but an online search found The Century Dictionary, which I was previously unaware of but which seems to be a major and authoritative (if slightly outdated) source. It records dain as an archaic spelling of deign, so maybe the subtitler was just being archaic rather than wrong, except the video drama is set in modern times, everyone speaks standard US English and the subtitles are otherwise 99.95% correct (there are a few slips, but no others worth commenting about). It also records dain as a shortened form of disdain, but it doesn’t give an example of either use. 

I was surprised to find that deign and disdain share an etymology, despite the different spelling. Anglo-French de(s)deigner became Middle English disdainen, while Old French deignier became Middle English deinen, but at some point people reinserted the ‘g’ to reflect the Latin dignus (worthy) and dignārī (to judge worthy).

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