English has many different prefixes to negate words, like a- (amoral), an- (anaerobic), contra- (contradiction), de- (destabilize) and im- (immature); or to lessen words, like sub- (subpar), and under- (underestimate). I call these negafixes. The problem is you can’t always remove them and get an un-negated word. But what if you could?
abstract — Being a normal person, Hedy Stuff preferred stract art.
anemic — Because he constantly licked the iron cell bars, Saul Tenpepper was nemic.
angelic — Cruella De Vil gave the Dalmatian pups a gelic smile.
antiques — Because of her distaste of history, Erin Sturun liked to collect ques.
antiquated — Tired of old furniture, Peg Bord redecorated with quated pieces.
contravene — Rick Ashay refused to vene any law dealing with creative accounting.
counterfeit — Steve Adoar’s engraving was so good the stuff looked like feit money.
delete — Since Dee Sepshun had been such a good girl, she decided to lete another item on her Christmas list.
demolish — In his spare time, Rich Enfamus would molish a house of cards.
discrete — Normally quite shy, Jude Ishuh was very creet about his sex life.
disrupt — With one bang of his gavel, Judge Bean could rupt the courtroom.
hapless — Pam Flet assumed men with mustaches were always hap fellows.
illusion — Anna Thesia wasn’t imagining things; the bats in the belfry were real lusions.
immune — It turned out that Snow White was mune to poisoned apples as well as aspirin.
inane — When Bea Fuddle thought about it, the stuck zipper story didn’t sound so ane after all.
mischievous — The Bumstead children were quite chievous when paid a great deal of money.
miscreant — Being a bit depraved, Sol Itude was not a normal creant.
nonchalant — Mort Chuary acted so chalant that the police suspected him immediately.
retrospect — In spect, Jonah regarded the whale as no big deal.
substitute — Vic Timize longed to be a stitute teacher because he wanted his own desk.
subterfuge — Prince Sipple was at his best planning terfuge across the land.
understood — Like most people, Jen Uphlect stood her dreams.
unruly — As always the ruly congregation mostly slept during the sermon.
The negafixes un-, in- and non- are often interchangeable (for example, intolerable = nontolerable = untolerable, and inapplicable = unapplicable = nonapplicable, and unhuman = inhuman = nonhuman). However, while non- and in- are only stand-ins for the word “not,” un- also can mean the reversal of an action (akin to the de- negafix, as in demystify). For example, undressed means to the take clothes off and unload means to remove a load. So, with two negafixes already standing for “not” why not make un- do strictly reversal work—as in:
unsold — returned for a refund
uncooked — made raw again
uncounted — called the time to lift off
uneaten — vomited
unwashed — made dirty
uninformed — fed misinformation
unfinished — taken apart
unknown — forgotten
unwritten — erased
unpainted — stripped and scraped
unlit — turned the lights out
For more un words, see Un-real Meanings.