Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Word Play

In chemistry, a now antiquated naming system designated different oxidation states of metals using "-ous" for lower and "-ic" for higher. For example, ferrous (Fe2+) vs. ferric (Fe3+) and cuprous (Cu+) vs. cupric (Cu2+). The naming system is presumably French in origin because it uses Latin names for the elements and because "-ous" and "-ic" are typical French suffixes (suffices?).

A while ago I wondered whether such word pairs existed outside of chemistry and also whether they reflected degrees of whatever they were modifying. I put the question out there and got some feedback:

Sixty Grit said: harmonious vs. harmonic;

Pete tweeted: numerous and numeric;

Jason tweeted tonous and tonic;

Blake tweeted vampirous and vampiric.

"Tonous" and "vampiric" come up as questionable words. I added generous and generic, tyrannous and tyrannic, and barbarous and barbaric to the list.

Of these pairs, barbarous and barbaric come the closest to what I sought: barbaric sounds slightly more barbarous than barbarous does.

Can you add any word pairs? I will update this post with contributions.


Michael Haz adds sonorous and sonoric; calorous is failing my dictionary.

rhhardin adds autonomous and autonomic.

Brill adds coprophagous and coprophagic

Deborah adds amorphous and amorphic

26 comments:

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Tumorous v. turmeric.

No?

Dang!

Michael Haz said...

Sonorous and sonoric

Michael Haz said...

Funky loud and funkeric.

Calorous and caloric

Sixty Grit said...

Callous and cow-lick.

rhhardin said...

Headwords in websters II

$ cat temp.sh
words.sh | egrep 'ic$|ous$'|awk '/ic$/ {
baseic[substr($1,1,length($1)-2)]++;
next;
}
/ous$/ {
baseous[substr($1,1,length($1)-3)]++;
next;
}
END {
for(i in baseous) {
if(!baseic[i])continue;
printf("%sic %sous\n",i,i);
}
}'
$ temp.sh
stannic stannous
numeric numerous
barbaric barbarous
sulfuric sulfurous
cupric cuprous
nitric nitrous
ferric ferrous
generic generous
autonomic autonomous

chickelit said...

Thanks rhhardin. I'm excluding all chemical examples.

Brill said...

Coprophagous v. Coprophagic

chickelit said...

Coprophagous v. Coprophagic

Bashirous and Bashiric!

deborah said...

amorphous amorphic

chickelit said...

deborah said...
amorphous amorphic

The difference between those two is nuance.

Mitch H. said...

Isn't the difference between barbaric and barbarous likewise nuance?

Mitch H. said...

Amorphic sounds like a technical description, whereas amorphous is more of a liberal-arts term as shapeless as its literal meaning.

Brill said...

Bashirous und Bashiric! LOL

Scatologos und Scatologic

...and he ain't no Joyce.

Lem said...

From a Movie.

Sopor Soporific

Lem said...

Sophomore, Sophomoric

chickelit said...

@Lem: Mind the suffix rules!

Lem said...

Got it.

Sixty Grit said...

Suffics, suffous.

STFUpicous.

Michael Haz said...

Althouseous

Althouseric

"That was a very althouseous remark."

"Yes, it was said in an althouseric manner."

john said...

righteous and left us

(no)

righteous and brothers

(no)

righteous and "suck on this, you right wing racists!"

Yes!

chickelit said...

ricpous and ricpic

Michael Haz said...

Corpulous and Christieric

bagoh20 said...

phallus - phallic

What? Is it just me?

ndspinelli said...

coitus v cunnilingus

bagoh20 said...

Why choose?

chickelit said...

ndspinelli said...
coitus v cunnilingus

You're making things hard for yourselves.