New Words and Phrases

For My Writer and Reader Friends

Words are fun for me: scrabble; crossword puzzles; Readers’ Digest word definition section. I love attending parties where we’re challenged to find as many words as possible out of a larger word. I do hate the puzzles where you’re asked to ‘find’ a word  in a mishmash of letters strung up and down within a grid. By the time I’ve encircled a couple of words, these lines block out the other words that I’m supposed to find.

Two new terms came to my attention lately: alpha privative; peripety. (Each of the authors who introduced these to me had written stacks of books, probably as tall as they are.)

Alpha privative is a prefix attached to the front of a positive word that deprives the value of the stem word. Examples: a, un, dis. Moral to amoral; happy to unhappy; satisfied to dissatisfied. You know lots of them!

Since I deduced that since alpha in Greek meant beginning that there should be an omega that we could put on the end of a sentence that also could negate the meaning of the stem word. I couldn’t find any. But we English-speaking people are inventive, and we found a way around that. We say, for example, “I will give you a hundred dollars” then pause a few seconds and add ‘not’. That’s our omega addition. It works.

Peripety means a sudden or unexpected reversal. I don’t think we can tie in alpha privative to a positive expectation which, that when withheld, would cause peripety. I suppose some authors might even be able to do this by creating a situation that goes from good to bad. To me, the word peripety is just fun to say. I’ll not be using it.

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