The Creative Exploration of Language


Bewildered, I realized recently, is a beautiful word.  Being a true English word, not a loan from French or Latin, it is constructed in the wonderfully logical Germanic manner that reminds me of the linguistic equivalent of a Lego model.

The prefix be-, as one might suspect, relates to the fundamental experience of being.  Its counterpart, wildered, is a beautiful word, based on the root ‘wild’, and connotes something that contains ‘wildness’ or ‘wilderness’ in its essence.  This essential aspect of the ‘wildness’ being referred to brings to mind something chaotic, uncontrollable and dangerous.

In this instance, conjoining the prefix be- to wildered gives the impression of being suddenly and jarringly thrown into a new state of being that is, if not existentially, at least mentally or spiritually dangerous.  Be- is the spark that ignites the gunpowder of wildered.

While there are many other excellent words that utilize this construction, such as besotted and benighted, considering its usefulness, the construction seems to be underused.  A number of potential new words come to mind that could be created from conjoining them with the prefix be-, from the lofty to the profane.

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