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"unexpectedly" is common, but "expectedly" is not, whereas "predictably" (the synonym of expectedly) is common but "unpredictably" is not. Is there any rationale for this?

See Ngram

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Erm... because the usual expression for the opposite of unexpectedly is normally as expected?. –  FumbleFingers Jun 25 at 13:54
    
alternative word clusters aside, I was wondering if the prefix 'un' operates differently when applied to an adverb, as opposed to an adjective. For example, believable,believably,unbelievably,unbelievable - See GOOGLE ngrams for believable,believably,unbelievably,unbelievable at books.google.com/ngrams/… –  steveneufeld Jun 25 at 14:05
    
See also inexplicably,explicably,inexplicable,explicable as a GOOGLE NGRAM at books.google.com/ngrams/… –  steveneufeld Jun 25 at 14:13
    
It's probably relevant to note that strictly speaking the extremely rare verb to unbelieve doesn't actually mean to reverse one's previous state of "belief", whereas that is the underlying type of negation in the not-quite-so-rare unthink. Negation comes in many forms, and words having to do with presuppositions and attempts to alter the opinions of others are particularly "slippery". –  FumbleFingers Jun 25 at 14:39

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Is there a rationale for why any word is common or uncommon? Common, in this context, simply means it is used more often. But certainly there are more drastic instances of where "un" or "dis" words appear with little to no use of the un-prefixed version. Example: disheveled but no sheveled. Unkempt but not kempt. Inscrutable but no scrutable.

"Lonely negatives" some call them [http://wordsnooper.com/2011/02/24/scrutable-inscrutable/]

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Disheveled is a particularly striking case because if you took the negating "dis-" away you'd be left with heveled; but the Middle English word from which disheveled arose is discheveled (meaning "bareheaded, with disordered hair," according to Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary). That dictionary identifies one surviving form of the Anglo-French root word chevoil in modern English: chevelure ("a head of hair"). I've never seen or heard that term used. –  Sven Yargs Jun 25 at 21:05
    
Thanks for the wonderful tidbit, Sven. –  Dave Magner Jun 25 at 21:22

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