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More Words that Make You Wonder

Word humor in the English Language

We use language to tell jokes.  But sometimes the joke is in the language.  Here’s another set of words that makes you wonder.  (See also Words that Make You Wonder.)

afterlife — Wouldn’t "after death" be exactly the same thing?

airshow — Is this a display of atmosphere?

alimony — Shouldn’t there be an “e” after the “n” in the word?

amends — How come you can’t make just one?

annals — Wouldn’t it be nice to be mentioned in even one?

bashful — Do you get this way from too many wild parties?

behalf — Why can’t you ever extend a welcome on someone’s "bethird"?

big — Why is this word littler than "little," "small" and "tiny"?

building — If it’s completed, shouldn’t it be called a built?

catwalk — Did you ever see a cat walk on one?

customers — Are they now called "guests" to avoid giving them custom service?

demote — Shouldn’t the word be "remote"; to make small again?

denote — Why isn’t this the opposite of "note"?

escalator, elevator — Are these working improperly when going down?

exterminate — Shouldn’t this mean the opposite of "terminate"?

extraordinary — Is this a lot more ordinary than usual?

goods — Can you buy just one?

goods — How come it’s bad when somebody has them on you?

governmental — Is this a bureaucratic state of mind?

haphazard — Does this mean that lack of order is dangerous?

heretofore — Is this the opposite of "therefromhind"?


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holy — Does this describe Santa’s mood when he goes, “Ho, ho?”

homo sapiens — Aren’t most of us heterosapiens?

hummingbird — Is this a parrot that forgot the words to the song?

indisposed — Like two minuses, don’t “in” and “dis” cancel each other, yielding just "posed"?

inexpensive — Since in- and ex- are opposites, shouldn’t it be just plain "pensive"?

inkling — If you have lots, are you a genius?

invalid — Does a physical handicap make a person illegitimate?

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

misrepresent — Is this when you accidentally sent something before again?

mushroom — Is this a place where they practice dog-sledding?

offspring — Is that like a dried up fountain?

pants, trousers, drawers, slacks — How is it you can wear a pair but not one?

pathetic — Is this what you are if you're not apathetic?

premeditated — Could this mean you did it before you thought about it?

preposterous — Doesn’t this really amount to “before” + “after” + “erous”?

skinny — Since fat people are bigger and have more skin, aren’t they more skinny than thin people?

slaughter — Isn’t it macabre that this word is mostly" laughter"?

stalemate — Does this have something to do with the seven year itch?

suitcase — Would this be legal mumbo-jumbo?

ulterior — Have you ever heard this word without the word “motive” after it?

uncooked — How do you uncook something?

wonderful — Is this what you are when you wonder a lot?