I remarked to Grandgirl the other day, on spotting a girl of about twelve passing us by in those plain white tennis shoes beloved of my own adolescence when I was the same age:
"My goodness, I haven't seen a pair of plimsolls in years!"
"What?" she said, "What word was that?"
"Plimsolls," I said, noting the strangeness of the word in my mouth, a word I haven't used in maybe forty years, "That's what we called those kind of shoes then."
"Weird," she responded.
And then playing Scrabble, I used the word "Unman". I remember my father using it.
"The cancer was so bad it just about unmanned him."
And wondering about it at the time.
About a catastrophe so awful it degendered one:
1.To deprive of the distinctive qualities of a human being, as reason, or the like.
2.To emasculate; to deprive of virility.
3.To deprive of the courage and fortitude of a man; to break or subdue the manly spirit in; to cause to despond; to dishearten; to make womanish.
4.To deprive of men.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition1.To cause to give up manly courage or spirit.
2.To take away virility from; emasculate.
Wiktionary1.To castrate; to remove one's manhood.
2.To sap the strength, whether physical or emotional, required to deal with a situation.
And then I thought, is there the equivalent "unwoman"? And sure enough there is:
1.To deprive of the qualities of a woman; to unsex.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia1.To deprive of the qualities of a woman; unsex. Sandys, tr. of Ovid's Metamorph., ii.
Apparently not as cataclysmic to be unwomanned as it is to be unmanned.
Words. I love them.