Onomatopoeia ?

There is a word out there. I was tempted to say lurking, but it’s not, it’s out there and it’s just that I can’t see it.

It’s out there like fractals are out there and it just took that hairy little Swiss Yoda guy and a dot-matrix printer to start seeing the edges.

I’ve seen the edges, because I know what the word means, I just don’t know what it is.

It’s the one that describes words that don’t sound like what they mean.

Take Sanguine, for example.

This little fucker means ‘cheerfully optimistic’, but it doesn’t sound cheerfully optimistic. It sounds dreary and mean and sad and hopeless and lost and unfound.

Even the most optimistic champion of the language couldn’t argue a case for anything stronger than a contemplative, mellow, warmish sort of half-glow leaning towards a tepid glass of stale chai tea.

Now I’m not one to argue with etymology and the route from the Latin for blood to the flushed and rosy cheeks of the eternally joyous is painfully clear, but it doesn’t change the fact that the word is just wrong.

Obviously, not being the boss of common usage, I’m in no position to do anything other than point out the absurdity of hanging on to language that’s clearly on the wrong side of the zeitgeist.

Anyway, I seem to have wandered slightly off topic.

There’s a word for words that sound like how they sound: onomatopoeia and I want to know what to call words that don’t sound like what they mean.



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