Butterflies have them

People think I can spell, but I cannot spell as well as all that.

Innocuous as it may seem, I am currently beating myself up for not knowing that “inoculate” is spelt with one N. Thank goodness for red squiggly lines on the screen.

The upside is that I discovered that “oculate” is not the antonym for “inoculate”. Well, that makes sense. We do not really need antonyms for every word, even if we are feeling contrary.

Ocellate/oculate is the adjective of ocellus (pl. ocelli), which has as its second meaning “a spot of colour surrounded by a ring of a different colour on the wing of a butterfly”. (Concise Oxford Dictionary – I am not going to tell you which edition; it will give my age away. 🙂 )

There are names for things we don’t even think of most of the time, but perhaps we should. We can discover a few if we play the dictionary game.

Do I even need to tell you that until the age of 12, I thought “available” was spelt (and pronounced!) “avaidable”? Even for those of us who love words, some things always slip through the cracks. It is unavoidable.


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