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#91029 - 01/04/03 12:25 PM seeking paradoxical words
dschwartz65 Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 2
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC USA
I'm collecting a list of paradoxical words, that is, words that in some sense contain their own contradiction. The word "exoteric" (AWAD 10/22) is a good example: It is essentially an antonym of "esoteric" and means "not limited to an inner circle of select people, suitable for the general public." However, I suspect that only a small inner circle of select people ( i.e., AWAD enthusiasts and similar word lovers) know what exoteric means. The word "exoteric" is therefore esoteric.

Please post any other words of this type that you may know, including a brief explanation of why they are paradoxical. I will post the complete list of submitted words to the AWAD forum.

If you know of a list of paradoxical terms in English that someone else already has compiled, please let me know where to find it.

Thanks!

David

David Schwartz
Department of Neurobiology
Duke University Medical Center
_________________________
David Schwartz
Department of Neurobiology
Duke University Medical Center

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#91030 - 01/04/03 01:37 PM cabbage [wink]
rav Offline
member

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 122
Loc: Poland, Cracow

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#91031 - 01/04/03 01:40 PM Re: seeking paradoxical words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear dschwartz65:
An interesting question. In searching for something that might fit, a found a site about
oxymorons you might enjoy browsing. Some of them are debatable, but that could be
the interesting part.
http://www.wordexplorations.com/oxymora-a-f.html


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#91032 - 01/04/03 02:43 PM Re: seeking paradoxical words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858

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#91033 - 01/04/03 03:24 PM Re: seeking paradoxical words
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10513
Loc: this too shall pass
if I apprehend (yet another!) David's question correctly, he seeks not words that can be defined in two nearly opposite senses (self-contradicting, enantiodromic)*, but rather words such as those in column one of the "cabbage puzzle"--non-selfdescriptive (heterological) words; e.g., monosyllabic, adjective.

one of my favorite words which exhibits this quality is orthoepy, which has the meaning "the customary pronunciation of words"; orthoepy has two accepted pronunciations.

*self-contradicting words have been discussed in these pages to some degree in the past.

(for that matter, heterological words have come up in a couple of threads, notably this one: http://wordsmith.org/board/showflat.pl?Cat=&Board=words&Number=6120)


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#91034 - 01/04/03 09:54 PM strange loops are everywhere
wofahulicodoc Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/06/01
Posts: 4767
Loc: Worcester, MA
http:// wordsmith.org/board/showflat.pl?Cat=&Board=words&Number=6120)

Isn't this another incarnation ofwhat is officially called Russell's Paradox? There are classes which include themselves, and classes which don't include themselves - to which one does the class-of-things-that-do-not-include-themselves belong? (Substitute "catalog" for "class" if it makes it more concrete.)


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#91035 - 01/05/03 08:21 AM Re: strange loops are everywhere
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13799
to which one does the class-of-things-that-do-not-include themselves belong?

It belongs to the Gödelian Just-cause-we-wrap-our-tongues-around-some-sounds-doesn't-mean-we-know-what-we're-talking-about class.


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#91036 - 01/05/03 04:24 PM This satement is false.
wofahulicodoc Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/06/01
Posts: 4767
Loc: Worcester, MA
Right! Go to the head of the class!

But it really is Russell's Paradox


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#91037 - 01/05/03 08:50 PM Re: seeking paradoxical words
dschwartz65 Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 2
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC USA
Many thanks to all who have posted ideas so far. Deliberately self-contradictory terms (e.g., sophmore), and logical conundrums (e.g. Russel's paradox) are great fun, but i think I have something different in mind, namely, instances where the paradox is not built into the word or phrase but arises from a particular social context. In other words, while "sophmore" will always be an oxymoron, "exoteric" will be paradoxical only as long as its use remains limited to a small circle of people. If, for example, William Safire were to write a column about "exoteric" being a paradoxical word, the word would no longer be paradoxical, or less so anyway.

There may not actually be very many such words. I hadn't given the matter much thought until I came across 'exoteric' the October AWAD posting.





David Schwartz
Department of Neurobiology
Duke University Medical Center
_________________________
David Schwartz
Department of Neurobiology
Duke University Medical Center

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#91038 - 01/05/03 09:50 PM Re: seeking paradoxical words
milum Offline
old hand

Registered: 09/03/01
Posts: 872
Loc: Birmingham, Alabama
Neato construction,

Mr. Dschwartz, but I fear that lingual constructions that you feel exist will be found to be as rare as ticks on a turtle. Think a minute. What grouping of thought concepts could be arranged so as to have an inadvertant conceptual gravitation towards paradox. You'll agree not many. But think about it, your question ...

While "sophmore" will always be an oxymoron, "exoteric" will be paradoxical only as long as its use remains limited to a small circle of people
is in itself paradoxical.


In the absolute, David, that is true. But do you have time to find another?



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