I Say Fulminate — My Brain Says Fumigate

Do you ever have one word that your brain connects to another word even though there is nothing whatsoever similar about the two words?  I have.  Fulminate and fumigate are like that to me.  Maybe that’s because they both start with the letter F.  Maybe that’s because they both end in ‘gate.’  Maybe it’s because my brain is feeble.  (That’s the most likely reason!)

Fulminate [fuhl-muh-neyt] is a word that means to explode with a loud noise, to issue denuniations, to issue or pronounce with vehement denunciation or condemnation.  When a child breaks a lamp or a china plate, his mother might fulminate (explode with a loud noise) in anger.  Or she might verbally condemn the child for being so clumsy.  A parent might fulminate when a teenage child comes home past curfew for the millionth time.  Or a husband might fulminate when the wife crashed the car.  (Do you see that the unifying theme is one of anger or frustration?  If you are happy in a situation, you will not fulminate anybody!)

So what is fumigate?  Fumigate [fyoo-mi-geyt] is a verb that means to to expose to smoke or fumes as when you disinfect or exterminate cockroaches, ants, termites, or other creepy crawly thingies from living in your home.  Sometimes professional exterminators will use a smoke bomb in your home to kill the undesirable critters.  Sometimes it is a chemical bomb.  That is where the ‘expose to smoke or fumes’ comes in.

So, these two words are not even somewhat similar in meaning.  (Unless you picture the angry fulminating person with smoke pouring out of his ears . . .)


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Posted in New Words. Comments Off on I Say Fulminate — My Brain Says Fumigate
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