I encountered the word prohibited in some software documentation and am curious if this is an example of a double negative:

Prohibit requests for PROHIBITED parts

(This is an option in a piece of software; names omitted to protect the guilty.)

I found the wording confusing, though it sorta makes sense because I know that "PROHIBITED" is a type of status for parts in this system. I'm mostly curious from an educational POV.

Question: Is prohibit a negative word?

(This word must've been invented by a Marketing department: "because disallow sounds too negative!")

Follow-up question #1: Is there a better term for negative word in this context?

Follow-up question #2: Is there a[n exhaustive] list of negative words, or a guideline for identifying words as such?

By negative word I mean words such as not and no, and that can result in double negatives when used in a sentence.

  • prohibit (v.) early 15c., from Latin prohibitus, past participle of prohibere "to hold back, restrain" (see prohibition). Related: Prohibited; prohibiting. from etymonline, "prohibit" The word has it's positive connotations ie, protective. – user98990 Feb 24 '15 at 22:56
  • It sounds a little weird, but there's nothing wrong syntactically or semantically with "Prohibit requests for PROHIBITED parts", since "requests" and "parts" are two different types of entities. – Hot Licks Feb 24 '15 at 23:48

Yes, "prohibit" is grammatically a negative word, since it allows any forms and negative polarity items in its complement. "They prohibited us from swimming anywhere." "My uncle prohibited my mother from giving me a red cent." ("a red cent" in the non-literal interpretation appears only in negative contexts)

However, there is no rule in English against having several negative words appearing together.

  • Except that it doesn't always improve comprehension to have several negatives around. That's not grammatical, though; you're right. – John Lawler Feb 25 '15 at 16:37

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