- de : form / deform
- dis : able / disable
- il : legible / illegible
- im : potent / impotent
- in : direct / indirect
- un : true / untrue
Would un-ugly mean pretty?
Does dis-cheat mean we are being honest?
Or would im-messy clothes mean we are smartly-dressed?
There are however, a few words that break this convention. I was reading a news article the other day and realised that the reporter had used such a word. The word is - impeccable. Apparently, there is such a word as `peccable', which means `liable to sin or error'. Adding the prefix im- makes the word carry a positive meaning. Another example that comes to mind is `indefatigable', which in itself, is quite unique because it has double prefixes.
`Impeccable' and `indefatigable' also fall into another category which I'd like to call as `popular negatives'. These are words where the prefixed form are in more common use than the root form. Here are some examples, plus a sample sentence I've written using the base form of the word, and you tell me if I don't sound awkward :
1. illicit : I passed through airport customs without any problems because I only carried licit goods in my baggage.
2. unscrupulous : I employed that young lady to handle the company accounts because of her scrupulous behaviour.
3. dismantle : I've lost the original instruction guide so now I don't know how to mantle all these parts back together.
4. incontinent : Of course these diapers are not for me, I'm continent!
I am sure there are other examples. Perhaps you know of some more. Enjoy the long weekend, my friends...