There’s a type of humor in which a person takes a word, like immaculate (meaning spotless, of course), and spins it around by using “maculate” to mean stained or dirty.

I was whelmed, rather than overwhelmed, for example.

But of course, most of those humorous words actually WERE used for real, back in the day. I like coming across them.

I’m reading a book called, “Kabloona,” for example, which was written in the 30’s. The author says maculate and maculated without a hint of humor or irony. I love it.

[“Underwhelm” is an exception. It was purely made up for fun, without ever being historically used. That’s because “whelm” means to overturn or crush or engulf or bury. Overwhelm meant that, but EVEN MORE. Underwhelm doesn’t make sense in that context, but I think it’s actually gaining ground as a for-real term that people use without thinking of it as funny.]


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