These words can be quite confusing!iStock/SIphotography
We’re all familiar with the onomatopoeia—a word that phonetically mimics what it describes (e.g. “plop,” “achoo,” “oink,” etc). And we all know that some words—like “hysterical” “ecstatic,” and “austere,” etc, even manage to look like what they describe, somehow. But what happens when language neither sounds nor looks like its meaning? Below are some examples of words (some familiar, some obscure to the point of being practically obsolete) that most certainly do not mean what their appearance might suggest.
This is a word that’s still quite commonly misused, no doubt because of its deceptive appearance. It looks for all the world like it ought to mean “undeterred” or “confident” or even “stoic” but Merriam-Webster defines it as meaning “to cause to be at a loss of what to say, think, or do.” In other words, to be nonplussed is to be disconcerted, ill-at-ease, confused, and/or rattled—all states that are the polar opposite of being cool as a cucumber. Here are other surprising words that mean the exact opposite of what you think.