Negatives and positives

From Tim McDaniel, this link to Brad Guigar’s Evil Comic (of the 18th):

Tim explains the premise of the strip:

It’s a comic strip about Evil Inc., an evil supervillain employer / support company.  Very lighthearted.  The background is that yet another superhero has been framed by a villain in disguise, so a superhero gets the notion to turn the tables: dress up as a supervillain (specifically, Lightning Lass) and do good deeds, and thereby sow discord among the villains.  This one is Lightning Lass talking to the CEO of Evil Inc.

The dialogue plays on negative prefixes (among them, disdein- and sometimes ex- ‘from’) and their absence. The play turns on “lost positives”, the non-existent positive affixless counterparts to words with negative affixes — parage corresponding to disparage, for example. People have been playing with lost positives in English for many decades and collecting them (there are, of course, websites devoted to them, for instance here and here).

One of Guigar’s lost positives doesn’t really work the way he intended: the CEO uses smirched as the positive counterpart of besmirched ‘dirtied, damaged in reputation’, but unfortunately smirched already exists, with a meaning (‘dirtied, discredited’) very close to besmirched. (Compare fouled ~ befouled, daubed ~ bedaubed, etc.)

Tim suggests the “lost negative” desmirched as the appropriate counterpart to (be)smirched.

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