Vocab: Melodious Misunderstandings
Am I the only one who sometimes hears malodorous when people say melodious? Thank goodness for the written word, where meanings can be parsed at a glance. Sometimes.
Let’s take melodious for an example. If I had seen it in print, my nose never would have wrinkled at the mistaken stench. Clearly, the word has melody right there in it. It fills the mouth and brain with roundly pleasing sounds. It so obviously comes from the Latin melodia, which in turn comes from the Greek melos for “song, part of a song.” Just look at it—melodious can mean nothing but “having a pleasing melody” (Merriam-Webster) or “agreeable to hear” (American Heritage). Certainly there’s nothing of smell or odor about it; nor is there anything bad, abnormal, inadequate, or mal- about it. Unlike malodorous, melodious is a delightfully sound expression of, well, delightful sound.
Then again, am I the only one who sees the word odious right there in melodious?
Ah, English, this is why I never tire of you.