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May 15, 2007

Surprise of the Day

Ms. Marcotte:

The term “fatherless” is in Word’s spelling dictionary, but the term “fatherful” is not.

Hhhm. A google search turns up an entire 52 mentions of the word "fatherful", of which at least two are Amanda's own (and one is Dr. Helen which will be someone she's delighted to be associated with).

One other mention is in a poem from 2003.

I would guess that this is therefore a protologism.

Something you might want to avoid using in a book as it's not actually part of the language.

May 15, 2007 in Language | Permalink


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Further evidence of complete wingnuttery: No sense of humor, on top of sexism, racism, and obsession with putting down uppity bitches. Fascinating. Why aren't you a wingnut, again?

Tim adds: My ability to use Google makes me a wingnut?

As far as I can see the antonym for "fatherless" is either "legitimate" or "parented".

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | May 15, 2007 1:14:30 PM

Well, that all seems rather over-the-top. All he did was effectively say "non-existent word not in dictionary shocker - film at 11".

Posted by: sanbikinoraion | May 15, 2007 4:17:44 PM

"No sense of humor, on top of sexism, racism, and obsession with putting down uppity bitches."

Yeah, but he's got nothing to apologise for, eh, Amanda...?


Posted by: JuliaM | May 15, 2007 5:13:33 PM

Reminds me of a conversation in the (hugely underrated) film Clueless:

Q: I know you can be 'overwhelmed', and I know you can be 'underwhelmed', but can you ever just be 'whelmed'?

A: I think you can in Europe.

It's all in the delivery. Ahem.

Posted by: sortapundit | May 15, 2007 5:58:31 PM

The word "motherless" doesn't crop up that often, generally only in the phrase "motherless sons of bitches" which I last remember hearing in movies about WWII and am probably unlikely to hear again.

I'm unsure as to Ms Marcotte's position. Was she initially saying that she thought "Fatherful" was a word and was surprised that it wasn't in the dictionary ? If so, I am surprised that they make people that stupid anymore, what with being able to Google away your ignorance and all.

Posted by: Simon | May 16, 2007 2:45:39 AM

Another article that makes one feel most gruntled.

Posted by: IanCroydon | May 16, 2007 8:21:42 AM

Wouldn't a gay marriage give us the opportunity to describe a child as fatherful?

Posted by: B's Freak | May 16, 2007 1:07:51 PM

There is no antonym for "fatherless" (or indeed "motherless"), just as there is no true antonym for "disabled", say (able-bodied doesn't really cut it).

This isn't uncommon. We have a large number of words to indicate that a person differs from the norm in a particular fashion, but in most cases have no word to indicate that a person has the normal value of some particular attribute. Someone may be unusually tall or short, but if they're not, we must employ a circumlocution such as "of average height", or can omit the adjective entirely, and average height will be assumed.

Similarly, for children to have mothers and fathers is the norm. There is no need for a word to describe a child who has a mother or has a father.

The rather transparent agenda of the likes of Ms. Marcotte is to disguise the fact that having a mother and a father is the norm underneath layers of cant about "valuing non-traditional families equally" and so on. Coining neologisms to label entirely normal situations feeds this agenda quite nicely.

I rather tend to think that Ms. Marcotte would be of the opinion that "normal" is a value judgement, too.

Posted by: Sam | May 16, 2007 6:14:28 PM