English is a marvelous and rich language. Yet native speakers seldom pause to consider its weird vocabulary. Coming from different countries and cultures and meandering the halls of history many English words now seem to have paradoxical definitions. These are wonder words because they make you wonder… (See also More Words that Make You Wonder.)
Isn’t it fruitless to eat your vegetables?
Isn’t dogma a bitch?
Can you enjoy a party fully?
Are overjoyed people too happy?
Would church music be considered organic?
Can lay people be upstanding citizens?
Why do they call marriage matrimony instead of patrimony?
Like the wheel, wasn’t the lazy Susan a revolutionary idea?
Did you ever wonder why funeral starts with the word fun?
What are you vacating when you go on vacation?
Isn’t the center of register the gist of the word?
Should someone with guests act hostile? Or take them hostage?
Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call a fireman a waterman?
Can you orient yourself out west?
Why are there interstates in Hawaii?
Why do caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?
If you are just kidding, isn’t that childish?
Is a precaution something you get before a caution?
Do undertakers actually undertake when it comes to fees for service?
Could we call an abstract painting an artificial artifice?
At sundown wouldn’t you expect nightrise instead of nightfall?
Would you expect a high-rise of flats to be very tall?
Isn’t kidnapping normal in kindergartens?
Aren’t even small Catholic churches massive?
Just before an artist’s model takes a break, is she predisposed?
Why do they call it a building even after it's built?
At the drive-in theaters, was there a lot of autoeroticism?
Would the ugly truth be called the lowdown lowdown?
Aren’t half-baked ideas rare?
How do you get off a non-stop flight?
When you cash a check, do you check the cash?
What is so proper about property?
Isn’t anything underwater also over water?
How come lipstick doesn’t do what it says?
If money doesn’t grow on trees, then why do banks have branches?
If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?
If you run errands, aren’t you a go-getter?
Why don’t we say farrer instead of farther, or nearther instead of nearer?
Isn’t a good steak rarely well done?
Didn’t rearing children once have something to do with spanking their butts?
Wouldn’t it be more correct to call a butterfly a flowerfly?
If you pull the wings off a fly, does it become a walk?
If somebody is armed to the teeth, does he have a neck?
If you cease to be, then come alive, are you deceased?
How come you are still sitting after you sat.
Isn’t it amazing that anyone can stand sitting?
Instead of a personality, does a dog have a dogality?
How come someone can be canny and uncanny at the same time?
What’s the point of flattery?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Exactly what is so fast about quicksand?
Are outstanding pay checks good or bad?
Why do they call dwellings stuck together apartments?
Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?
Isn’t it odd that sweetmeat is basically bread while sweetbread is meat?
Why do we hear music from speakers and dial talk-shows on tuners?
Why is brassiere singular and panties plural?
How come people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Why do we iron our clothes and paper our walls?
Why are goods sent by ship called cargo and those sent by truck shipment?
Why does worthless mean the opposite of priceless?
Why are the bigheaded usually also small-minded?
In court, how come you can’t swear except under oath?
Doesn’t it seem the opposite of ability should be nobility?
If you get a scratch on your car, can you make something from it?
Is it all right to put cups in the dishwasher and dishes in the cupboard?
Isn’t it odd that to tell time, you look at the hands on the face on the wrist?
If you are assassinated instead of just murdered, are you important?
Shouldn’t guests leave a banquet fed up?
In a stadium, why do they call a place where you sit the stands?
How come cook and kook aren’t pronounced the same?
Would you rather have your bank account frozen, liquidated, or evaporated?
Can you comprehend the language of a comprehensive insurance policy?
If you have a temper, can you give it away? Or get another?
Why does a tugboat mostly push things in the harbor?
Did you ever have a comb you couldn’t part with?
Is it good if a vacuum cleaner really sucks?
Isn't it pointless to write with a broken pencil?
If you fast to loss weight, do you slow to gain weight?
What does it mean when the odds are even against you?