I was listening to preacher James MacDonald recently and he commented that his children used to ask silly questions that have to do with quirky words. His two examples were “Why is the word abbreviation so long?” and “Why is the person who handles your money called a broker?”
That led my brain on a wild goose chase for other strange examples. My sister pointed out that valuable and invaluable mean the same thing – even though in should negate that whole valuable thing. Is that like inflammable and flammable? Which both mean: “Hey, don’t get sparks close to this thing or it will light it up like an inferno!”
There are a couple of sports anomalies as well. While a baseball diamond is correctly named, a boxing ring is actually a square. A kickball is kicked, but a football is mostly carried, thrown, and caught with hands.
Foods are confusing, too. There is no egg in eggplant, no apple in pineapple, no ham in hamburger, and while chicken breasts are in fact chicken breasts, thankfully chicken fingers are not chicken fingers. And I still don’t understand why we call it chicken-fried steak; yes, it’s fried like chicken, but so are half the dishes in Southern cuisine, so why not just fried steak? Speaking of fried, French fries are not from France. Hot dogs are hot, but certainly not dogs (unless you live somewhere that the meat source is questionable).
Fat chance and slim chance are synonyms. How is that possible?
Why is that to cleave means to stick together, but a cleaver divides things? Also, one parks in a driveway, and drives on a parkway. By the way, quicksand works slowly.
Why does an inanimate clock have a face and hands?
Now fill in this blank: If vegetarians eat vegetables, then humanitarians eat .
These are a few samples of the quirky side of language. There is most certainly an etymology (word history) to what things are called, but on the face of it, these words and phrases don’t make sense.
Can you think of any other examples? What quirky things have you noticed about our English language?