Invaluable

The word invaluable, defined as something extremely useful or indispensable, means powerful and positive. I despise this word. The problem for me that many of the words I’ve learned over the years, which begin with ‘in,’ describe something opposite the definition of the word that follows said ‘in.’ So, my mind has to shift from it being something negative to it being positive. Why is the English language so damn wishy-washy about its rules?

Here is a list of just a few of the words we’ve all grown up to understand as the opposite just because the ‘in’ is in front of it:

incompatible
incomplete
incomprehensible
inconsequential
inexpensive
incommunicative
infallibility
ineffective
ineligible
incomparable
incapable
inappropriate
ineffectual
inconsistent

Add to that, pet peeve #2, people using the word when I’m already conflicted about having to rethink it when I read it! How come they aren’t just as upset as I am?!? And why can’t anyone give me a reasonable explanation as to why the word should even exist?

Then recently, I’m reading a book called 180 more, a book filled with poetry curated by Billy Collins. I adore his work! But right there in the introduction, HE used the word. I was stunned! I had to stop reading for a bit and compose myself. And possibly rethink my relationship with him.

While I realize that words have meanings, and it is in the dictionary, I cannot wrap my mind around the inconsistency (< again LOOK!) of the use of ‘in’ at the front of words which clearly mean to indicate the opposite or worse action of the word.

Anybody else have this quandary?

#Billy Collins – I sure hope you see this. I would love your input. πŸ™‚

27 thoughts on “Invaluable

  1. Methinks these “in” words have much to do with the indeterminate use of the word “not”, and the interbehavioral flaws of society! Here’s a good one, Susi – inflammableness.

    Plus, I think you will find this interesting – “Many people find it confusing that the in- prefix at the beginning of invaluable apparently lacks the meaning “not” found in a number of other words, such as invalid, inarticulate, and insane. In fact, the prefix does indicate negation, but in a way that is not immediately obvious. The original (and current) meaning of invaluable is “valuable beyond estimation”; the word describes something so precious that one cannot assign a price to it. This, clearly, is the opposite of the meaning “having no value; valueless” that the word might seem to carry. Invaluable actually has been recorded in the sense “without value,” but such use has been exceedingly rare and is practically nonexistent today.” – Merriam-Webster

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, English is incomprehensible at times and, I must add, rendering one incapable of explaining the reason we do or don’t say something. While the impact is not exactly inconsequential, we have no choice but to be inconsistent, unless the use is inappropriate to the point of making one mentally invalid…

    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s