I'd never heard the phrase before, and am excited to be able to express myself next time I am in extreme dudgeon!

I've always loved the finding of opposite words that are usually only seen in one circumstance, if that makes sense (overwhelmed and whelmed, disgruntled and gruntled). I blame this on the formative influence of "The Disreputable History of Franke Landau-Banks" by E. Lockhart, who managed to combine private school, language studies, an ancient fraternity with a basset hound mascot, incredibly well-organized pranks and fighting the patriarchy all into one excellent book that was catnip to middle-school me. And present me, in many ways - perhaps a reread is in order!

ETA: Apparently some people refer to them as "unpaired words" because the paired word fell out of fashion (kempt, couth, ruly, etc.) However, if they come from French (or Latin? I know very little about linguistics tbh) I guess they aren't as possible - one can't be sheveled, or mayed.

Either way, this column had me quite gruntled, and in very low dudgeon indeed.

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Two thoughts on today's column:

1. I was surprised that you didn't go into spelling as a clue to etymology. The -geon ending seems like an obvious clue. Other words in this family: pigeon, surgeon, dungeon, bludgeon, and, my favorite, curmudgeon. I assume that all these words are entering English through French, but I'm not energetic enough to do the research to verify this hypothesis.

Similarly, all the -gh- words, with all their odd pronunciations, I've assumed enter English through Germanic/Anglo-Saxon routes. Again, I've wanted to explore the history of all these pronunciations, but...

Of course, this gets into the interesting issue of when spellings were developed and "fixed". (I was mulling on the spelling of "view" the other day. Who decided that was the proper spelling?!?)

2. Regarding the use of "balls" in slang (and the riposte of "the other member of your household", I'm reminded that in the Ras/Willis household, when Mark and Ivan were having guy time (watching a basketball game on TV or such), they referred to it as "time to air one's balls". This elicited a similar response ("I didn't know they needed space to breathe..."), but I don't remember asking where the phrase came from.

Hope all is well with you and the other member(s) of your household. Here's to the day when we can see one another "irl".

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