Words that don't mean what they sound like they mean

Everytime someone uses the word paucity, there’s some part of my brain that insists it means “an abundant supply.” Of course, it means the exact opposite. Does any one else have this problem with other words? That they just simply sound like they mean something other than what they do? Just curious.

That’s funny, I used to have the identical issue with “dearth.”

Inflammable. Not the opposite of Flammable.

Flocculate. Got nothing to do with birds or body noises.

Need I mention “niggardly”?


“Flush,” both in the sense of “to turn red” and “to be currently wealthy.”

It just seems like something should be drained away, rather than heightened.

Pulchritude doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with beauty; quite the contrary–it’s an ugly-sounding word, to my ears.

Part of my brain insists that ‘droll’ really sounds like it means ‘boring’.

I also have the same problem with ‘dearth’.

I used to think prone meant “immune to,” but it doesn’t. It means the opposite. I don’t know why I had it confused.

I concur on “droll.” I only internalized it when I read an old Nowel Coward review, who’s picture should probably go opposite that adjective in the dictionary.


To me, it’s always sounded like “full of shit”.

Which, I guess, could indeed be an interpretation of the word.

“Bemused” always gets me. My mind substitutes it with ‘amused’ and I have to conciously recall the definition to continue reading.


I guess because "Commencement " is when degrees are conferred, it sounds like it should mean end instead of beginning.

Masticate sounds like it should mean something else.

And the raise/raze homophone is always fun.

It might, if it was spelled that way. But, it’s facetious.

It’s spelled facetious, if it helps to differentiate.

I agree about pulchritude. It sounds like it should describe an unpleasant odor.

D’oh. :smack:
Preview is my friend. My poor, neglected friend.

*Hoi polloi * to me always sounds like it should mean the “elite”. Maybe because it kind of sounds like “hoity toity”.

Really, it means the unwashed masses.

I always thought felching sounded more like some kind of expulsion, excretion or vomiting.

HAH! :smiley: