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A bit from Comedy Central of last March (ellipses omitted) inspires our theme (you can see video or transcript).
    . . .Remember how [Florida and Michigan] held their Democratic primaries early, ended up having all of their delegates stripped and not having their votes count? Funny story. Now that each Democratic delegate is as precious as a Gutenberg Bible stained with centaur tears — delegations from both states met recently to find a way to make their delegates count, even if it means taking legal action.
    . . .In short, this election could come down to a lawsuit involving Florida. How precedented. How absolutely heard of.
Quite a few terms are much more familiar in their negative form (unprecedented; un-heard of) than in their positive form (precedented; heard of). We’ll look at some of them this week.

For example, we all know inexorable (impossible to prevent, or impossible to persuade) and inevitable (certain to happen; unavoidable), but not their positive forms:

exorable – capable of being moved by entreaty
evitable – avoidable
    [2000 article:] [T]hroughout last year, George W. Bush's nomination had the aura of inevitability. Now that Senator John McCain crushed Bush in the Republican primary in New Hampshire, [a] coronation at the G.O.P. Philadelphia convention has become both evitable and exorable.
    – William Safire, New York Times, Feb. 3, 2000
Sidenote: The above quote is of course wordplaying. Now evitable is sometimes used “straight”, without wordplay,¹ but not so with exorable, as far as i can find in recent use. When exorable appears, it is usually a mistake, where the author has substituted exorable for inexorable, or for execrable – extremely bad or unpleasant.


¹ The industrialization -- and dehumanization -- of American animal farming is a relatively new, evitable and local phenomenon: no other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do. – New York Times, Nov. 10, 2002

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We're familiar with the word invincible.

vincible – capable of being overcome or defeated
[from the same root as Julius Caesar’s veni, vidi, vici: “I came, I saw, I conquered."]
    Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know.
    – Aldous Huxley
Nice quote.
 
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We aren’t limited to words that use the in- prefix to form the negative. For example, regardless has a positive counterpart.

regardful – mindful of; heedful (word has a sense of respect and deference)
    We must be especially regardful of local problems, local traditions and local pride.
    – John W. Tuthill, former US Ambassador to the European Economic Community, speaking to American businessmen abroad (as quoted in his obituary in NY Times, Sept. 22, 1996)
 
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I just read:

"The man was without something and pity--would it be ruth? I know it begins with r--and would simply have given me the horse's laugh."

in Jeeves and the Tie That Binds.

I'm sure that Wodehouse was not the first to do this. But who was? Runyon or Twain or does it go much further back?
 
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incorrigible – not reformable (with the sense of depraved; delinquent; unmanageable; unruly¹)
corrigible – capable of being corrected, reformed, or improved
[from the same root as correct]
    The current juvenile justice system is woefully ineffective. It fails to treat youthful offenders as if they are corrigible, educable or redeemable. And … the present system does more harm than good
    – Washington Post, Oct. 12, 1991

¹ By the way, unruly also fits our theme: ruly, the positive form, is a perfectly legitimate word, though a rare one. Oddly, AHD and OED conflict on that word. AHD says that ruly was simply created from unruly, but OED says the opposite, and dates ruly back to 1400.
 
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maculate – stained; impure (less commonly, spotted or blotched)

[from Latin macula, spot. The negative form is immaculate1. perfectly clean, neat, or tidy 2. free from flaw or mistake 3. pure; unstained; without sin]
    … a decidedly maculate Congress …
    – Washington Times, Dec. 31, 1994

    Miami enjoys an image as a city with a short memory and therefore as a great place to reinvent oneself … Miami has welcomed him [O. J. Simpson] with the open arms usually reserved for murderous dictators and drug profiteers who retire here to launder money and, more important, their maculate reputations.
    – Miami New Times - May 22, 1997
 
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So, immaculate conception is negative and maculate conception is positive?

Maculate is used quite commonly in botany to mean spotted or blotched. The specific epithet, maculata, is used in scientific binomials.
 
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I usually get maculate reception on my car radio.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
immaculate conception is negative?
Let he who is immaculate cast the first stone. Wink
 
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gain is an obsolete word meaning “straight; direct”, as in roads. It survives in the negative term ungainly – clumsy; awkward.

(As in the first lines of The Dachshund, by Edward Anthony:
    Because I waddle when I walk,
    Should this give rise to silly talk
    That I’m ungainly? What’s ungainly?
    I’m really rather graceful - mainly.)
Once in a while you’ll find the positive form:

gainly – graceful, tactful (of conduct); or: graceful, shapely (of bodily form or movement)

Interestingly, gainly is mostly used in an assertion that something is not gainly. But not always (last quote).
    She is six months pregnant and not as gainly as usual. (Telegraph, Nov. 16, 2002)

    … the U.S. Congress. … Like the African wart hog, it was far from gainly but performed useful functions. (Austin American-Statesman, Dec. 12, 1990)

    [pheasants, bred to be hunted:] As fat as turkeys and little more gainly, they make intermittent attempts to get aloft … but many of them waddle obliviously under someone’s tyres.
    – Guardian Unlimited, Dec. 28, 2007

    ... the simple house is newly clad in gray shingles and offers a more gainly profile to the street.
    – Washington Post, March 17, 1994
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
gain is an OBSOLETE word meaning “straight; direct”, as in roads. It survives in the negative term ungainly – clumsy; awkward.



Wanna bet?
It's still in use as a dialect word in my region. I don't use it but my Dad will say things like "Well that's not very gain, is it?"
 
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And the comparative form is also in use - "let's go this way, it's gainer."

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Bob, I can only guess that your father is quite the character. I suspect I'd not understand him very well, either. Wink I'd love it if he'd post with us.
 
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