5 Words That Mean the Opposite of What You Think
If your house is “inflammable,” you probably need a fire extinguisher.
People think it means “energized,” but it really means “weakened.” The word “nervus” originally referred to sinews and tendons, but around the 1600s it became a byword for strength and vigour. “Enervate” first meant “to cut the nerves or tendons” and later came to mean “to lessen the vitality or strength of.”
People think it means “a fun, trivial fact.” But it originally meant “a fun, false fact.” Coined by Norman Mailer in 1973 to describe “facts” invented by reporters, this word can (confusingly) describe both true and false information. But for Mailer’s intended meaning, you can look to other words with the suffix: -oid. If a humanoid resembles a human (but isn’t one) and a planetoid resembles a planet (but isn’t one), it follows that a factoid resembles a fact—but isn’t one.
People think it means “fireproof,” but it really means “easily inflamed.” Yep, the words “flammable” and “inflammable” mean exactly the same thing. Make sure your home is equipped with a fire extinguisher (and a dictionary).
People think it means “noisy,” but it really means “obnoxiously smelly.” Or, in a more abstract sense, it can refer to anything unpleasant, such as the “noisome truth.” Noisome is actually etymologically related to the word “annoy.”
People think it means “undisturbed,” but it really means “utterly baffled.” The word comes from the Latin non plus, meaning “no more,” as in, “I am in a state where I can say, think or do no more. I am nonplussed.”