I posted in the Link the Lyrics thread a few minutes ago and used the word "inept". This got me thinking (no, no, don't say anything!) that there doesn't seem to be a positive form of the word. We never say, for instance, "that person is so ept" or talk about "eptitude".
At this time of year there's a lot of mention of the Virgin Mary, who is "immaculate". There is no corresponding opposite in common use but, however, it does appear in biological nomenclature as "maculatus" or "maculata" to mean spotted or blotched as in Phalaenopsis maculata, Teuthowenia maculata or Coleomegilla maculata to name but three.
Does anyone else have examples of words which appear - commonly - in only one form?
The thing with uncouth is that in Old English cuð 'known' existed, but it has since dropped out of usage. Etymologically speaking apt is the positive for inept in that latin ineptus is from in- 'not' and aptus 'apt'. I would say that most buildings are fenestrated in that they have windows. There are also words that occur only in binomials, such as kith in kith and kin or hue in hue and cry. Hue from the Norman French for outcry is not related to hue 'color' which is from Old English. And thinking about it, there are many words that do not have an exact antonym: e.g., arson, murder, jack rabbit, unicorn ...
Maculate is listed as both a verb and an adjective by the AHD, and as an adjective by M-W. The OED lists it as a transitive verb (?a1475), noun (1490: Obs. rare), and an adjective (1490: = MACULATED a. Now chiefly lit. and poet., in expressed or implied antithesis to immaculate). MACULATED: Spotted (now chiefly Biol.). Also (now rare): stained, soiled (lit. and fig.); defiled. The Online Etymology Dictionary dates it from 1490.
The OED lists ept and traces it to E. B. White, 1938. The Word Detective has an interesting take on it:
"Inept," meaning "awkward, bungling, inappropriate or foolish," comes from the Latin "ineptus," meaning roughly the same thing. But the Latin "ineptus" itself is a combination of the prefix "in" (meaning "not") with the word "aptus," meaning "appropriate, qualified, suited for the purpose." That root "aptus" is better known today in its other descendant, "apt," which is the "missing" positive to the negative "inept."
TinmanThis message has been edited. Last edited by: tinman,