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?