Ghost Words

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Some English words suggest the existence of other words, either their opposites or stem words, which are not real.  These are ghost words.  For example:

aghast and ghastly — How come there is no such thing as ghast?

akimbo — Is this the opposite of kimbo; that is, standing with hands raised up?

behead — Shouldn’t it be dehead instead?

downtrodden — Is it better to be uptrodden?

earnest — Is this what you are when you earn the most?

echo — Why isn’t it echohohoho?

eleven, twelve — Wouldn’t it make more sense if they were oneteen, twoteen?

evening — Does this exclude the odd hours of the night, or the odding?

gruesome — If it’s so bad, why isn’t it grueplenty?

hammock — Is this where one makes fun of lousy actors?

height — Why is it width, length, and breadth but not heighth?

heretofore — Is this the opposite of “therefromhind?”

hijack — Would a hijill be a less violent crime?

history — Is there no herstory because all the chroniclers used to be men?

hitchhiker — Does he become a hitchrider when he gets a ride?

how — If it’s what, when, where, why, and who, then shouldn’t it be whow?

howitzer — Was there ever a “whywitzer” or “whowitzer?”

interrupt — Is this what connects the rupts?

lukewarm — Why not a matthewwarm or paulwarm?

manual — If stick-shifts are manual, are automatics womanual?

mayhem — Does aprilhem precede this and junehem follow it?

milestone — Is the metric equivalent meterstone?

monsoon — Would a monlater be as devastating?

offense — Why isn’t the opposite called onense?

pajama — We know pa and ma, but who is ja?

preempt — Is there no empt because something else always happens first?

redundancy — Is dundancy sufficient?

refrigerate — What is frigerate and why are we doing it again?

retaliation — Is this payback for something called taliation?

ruthless — How come there is no davidless?

seesaw — Why isn’t there anything on the playground called a hearheard?

shampoo — Have you ever tried real poo?

sightsee — When the deaf go on a vacation, do they soundhear?

sister — Why is it father, mother, and brother, but not sisther?

smarting — If nothing hurts, are you studpiding?

stopwatch — Isn’t it also a startwatch?

substantial — Is this worse than stantial?

triumph — If not a triumph, perhaps a biumph, or maybe only a uniumph?

underneath — Did you ever wonder what was overneath?

window — If it has glass in it, shouldn’t it be called no-wind-ow?

kilter — If being out of this is bad, where do you get more?