cellocgw wrote:Talking of strange lists and strange words, how about this:
Are there any words which are their own definition? I thought of "self-explanatory" but that's kind of the opposite.
How about "word", "noun", " pentasyllabic", and on its first use only "neologism".
I'm not clear what cellocgw means. Your words are self-describing
: they denote a category to which the word itself belongs or a characteristic that the word itself possesses. Self-defining
would appear to mean that the word acts as its own definition. Any word that's a compound of other words, like doorknob
is in a sense self-defining, though often the meaning is more specific than the apparent intrinsic definition (if a pipe in my flat bursts, whatever my downstairs neighbour has to contend with, it's not really a waterfall). Words employing affixes, like superhuman
could also be said to be self-defining; and if we allow foreign elements, then supervise
counts. In a sense the only words that aren't self-defining are (i) words that mean something just because they do
, (ii) words that have come to mean something different to their etymological origins. Even category (i) could be said to be self-defining in a kind of vacuous sense. Some of these category (i) words will have unknown etymology; others will be cognate with the very first words uttered by homo sapiens
, which is a kind of awesome thought.