Linguistic absolutes

rogersgeorge on January 14th, 2014

Some words you’re not supposed to modify. These words are absolutes.

My favorite is “unique.” It means one of a kind, period. People use it to mean “interesting,” which admits of degrees. Your amount of interest can vary, but being one of a kind is exactly that, so something can’t be very unique. This guy is a scientist, but he’s not a grammar geek.

The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

I got this from an article in The Daily Galaxy back in June.

A few more absolutes: touching, contact, countable, complete. All these either are or aren’t. Can you add to the list?

I thought of a word that maybe you can modify an absolute with: almost. Though really, when you say “almost” referring to an absolute, you mean “not.”


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One Response to “Linguistic absolutes”

  1. The classic: “Pregnant”! 🙂


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