It turns out that gruntled IS a word. And I'm disgruntled about that.
I intended to write an expose of some of the gaps in the English language. Instead the gap is in my vocabulary, which isn't as meandering as I cogitated.
Years ago when I worked in another newsroom, the wire editor noticed someone was referred to as being uncouth.
We all knew what uncouth was - ''lacking in polish and grace,'' according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
''But what's 'couth'?'' Ernie asked.
(Yes, that's right, Burt and Ernie sitting across from each other in the same newsroom. Gee, no, we never heard that joke before. How clever of you to think of it. Now can we gress instead of digress from the topic on hand?)
''There's no such word as 'couth,''' Ernie declared.
Twenty years later, I took the trouble of looking it up. Couth IS an actual word. It means ''sophisticated'' and ''polished.'' The etymology dates it to 1896 as the back-formation from uncouth.
So as you're driving down the street today, roll down the window and yell at someone on the sidewalk, ''Hey, buddy! You're nothing but couth! So there!''
See, now that your vocabulary has been expanded, you can sound like you're hurling insults, but if the disgruntled hurlee catches you, you can explain how you were paying him a great compliment - ideally before he knocks the stuffing out of you. That would make you unstuffed. Or destuffed. Possibly disstuffed.
Here's another one: ''You can be overwhelmed and you can be underwhelmed. But can you be whelmed?'' a cousin of mine asked on Facebook.
(No, I am not THAT old. I do know what Facebook is. Please concentrate on gressing.)
I chuckled and added whelm to my list of English words that don't make sense.
Then I looked it up. Yes, you can be just plain whelmed.
It dates back to around 1300 A.D. and means to overturn a thing to cover up something, or to engulf.
My disgruntlement flared again.
Speaking of which, yes, once again, you CAN be just plain gruntled. Gruntle means to put in good humor. Finding out words I thought weren't words actually are words turned me from gruntled to disgruntled. It discombobulated me.
And, there it is! That's the word with the gap in the English language.
Discombobulate means to upset and confuse. I am in a near-perpetual state of discombobulation.
Ergo (I don't know what that means, either, but it shows up in all the scholarly discourses), combob should mean to be orderly.
Instead, according to the etymologists I checked, discombobulate seemed to have been birthed in 1916 or so as a fully formed word without being encumbered with a root.
(Actually, discombobulate sounds like snapping the ol' bean off one of those bobbing head dolls.
And why is a head referred to as a bean? Or noodle, noggin, dome, pate, skull, cranium, hat rack, ...
Why not spaghetti? Why does, ''That's using the ol' meatball'' seem to make sense while we would be left scratching our noodles if someone said, ''That's using the ol' spaghetti.''
But again, we digress. So please, let's gress again. Or would that be regress?)
Anyway, stay couth, stay gruntled, watch out for the whelm and may we all achieve a state of combobulation.
---- Write to Mr. Wordsmith at email@example.com.