Where There’s Warmth, There’s Also Coolth: Long Lost Word Pairs

Reunited and it feels so good!

Socks, earrings, chopsticks, windshield wipers. An odd assemblage, but they all come in pairs. Lose any one, and the remaining loner has no use. What about the lost item? In what linty, dank corner of the basement is the other sock curled in despair? What sticky club floor is the final resting place for that sparkly earring?

This is dedicated to the shriveled sock in the basement, the flung-and-forgotten earring, the windshield wiper in the ditch. We’re reuniting long-lost word pairs.

Warmth - Coolth

Although spellcheck will spike the word with a bloody red line of error, coolth is the long-lost sibling of warmth. If warmth evokes a pleasantly warm sensation, coolth suggests an enjoyable coolness.

The word has been around since the 1500s and its use is generally in good humor. Ezra Pound, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rudyard Kipling, and other authors didn’t shy from using coolth in their writing. In fact, Kipling seems to employ the word in a straightforward way when writing about venturing into “the woodlands’ coolth again.”

Anonymous - Onymous

Funny how onymous, meaning “known, bearing the author’s name,” is entirely unknown to most English-speakers today, while anonymous (“author unknown”) is well-known! Crazy twist of fate. The word onymous applies to a work in any form—written, visual, musical—of which there’s no question about who the author is. If the author’s name is signed, printed, etched in stone, spelled out in bubblegum, the creation is onymous.

Distress - Eustress

People don’t tend to think of stress as enjoyable. In fact, when folks are under stress, they might experience pain, anxiety, or distress with all the screaming deadlines and hullabaloo around them. The thing is, stress isn’t necessarily bad, although the word distress, without its pair, gives stress a bad name. For those of you who thrive under pressure, you’re not looking for a stress-free zone. Enter eustress, a word that describes the condition of responding positively to stress.

Euphemism - Dysphemism

Euphemisms are pleasantly bland substitutes that lessen the harshness of offensive terms (like “moving my bowels” for “taking a crap”). Of course, dysphemisms would be the counterbalance to such “good speech.” It goes beyond simply using offensive language; uttering a dysphemism means intentionally inserting a vulgar term where a neutral one would (politely) carry the same meaning. Like if someone said they visited the cemetery to “pay respect to the worm food.” It’s a way to mock a person, thing, or situation, either out of rebellion or for comic relief.

Placebo Effect - Nocebo Effect

People commonly think of placebos as little sugar pills doctors and psychiatrists give patients to satisfy them into thinking they’re reaping the benefits of modern medicine. The pills are completely harmless and don’t produce any physiological effects, but if patients think they feel better, then they are experiencing the placebo effect. If, however, patients claim to feel worse after taking the sugar pill – sorry, placebo – then they are experiencing the nocebo effect.

Blacklist - Whitelist

Nice to know whitelists exist in the world to counterbalance blacklistscorrupt influences! The word whitelist has many meanings but, above all, it’s a list of suitable items: movies that are suitable for youngsters, job applicants suitable for a particular position, email addresses that are allowed to pass through the spam filter, or VIPs with special security clearance. The items on a whitelist are good to go, while those on the blacklist are big no-nos.

Misogyny - Misandry

For thousands of years, women have been the targets of censure, blame, attack, and hatred by men. Fortunately, not all men practice misogyny, essentially women-bashing, but those who do are misogynists. In reuniting lost pairs, we thought it would be an excellent (if somewhat condemning) opportunity to remind the world that women are not the sole gender born to scorn; in fact, because women have so long been hated by men, it’s not surprising that misandry, or the “hatred of males” exists, too.

Catastrophe - Eucatastrophe

Compared to other terms on this list, eucatastrophe is a newborn, originating in 1944. Author J.R.R Tolkien attached the Greek prefix to catastrophe, creating a literary term that essentially means “a story’s happy ending,” and more broadly refers to any happy event. With World War II still raging in 1944, it seemed like the catastrophe, or “widespread disaster” of the war would never end. A year later, the newly-coined eucatastrophe had incredible real-life meaning. The agony of “catastrophe” became the joy of a happy occasion with the end to the war.

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