When you stop to think about the English language, you have to come to the conclusion that whoever it was that decided what words are words and what words are not was an entirely dislogical person.
Wait a minute, you may say, “dislogical” is not a word.
Well, maybe it isn’t.
But look at how the dictionary defines “dis” and then consider some other words that begin with “dis” and you will find yourself dissing the dislogical nature of how the dictionary disses words.
The prefix “dis-” according to the dictionary, means (with an example offered after each usage):
Absence of: disinterest.
Opposite of: disfavor.
Undo; do the opposite of: disarrange.
So basically, what your teacher taught you in school was the “dis” was the opposite form of what follows.
Except for some very glaring exceptions.
Someone who is disgruntled is “displeased and discontented about something.” But disgruntled is not, as you might think, the opposite of gruntled.
There is, according to the dictionary, no such word as “gruntled.”
Or “gusted,” “mayed” or several other words that dis, the opposite-making prefix, is supposed to make opposites from.
Likewise, “disappointed” is not the opposite of “appointed.”
For the more scholarly, there’s disquisition — a formal discourse on a subject.
Disquisition is, of course, in no way the opposite of “inquisition” — a harsh, difficult, or prolonged questioning, or an investigation characterized by a lack of regard for individual rights.
Although being forced to listen to a disquisition may, at times, be as painful as an inquisition.
There is — unless you are totally disinterested by now — a word in the English dictionary that more flagrantly disses the “dis-” prefix than any other.
That word is “disambiguate.”
Disambiguate means “to remove the ambiguity from; make unambiguous.”
Disambiguate would appear in a sentence like this: “In order to disambiguate the sentence ‘She lectured on the famous passenger ship,’ you’ll have to write either ‘lectured on board’ or ‘lectured about.’”
While I would not deny the claim that at times, my writing is in need of disambiguation, I simply want to point out that while “disambiguate” is a word, “ambiguate” is not.
This, I say, is not right.
If you disagree, I dare you to dispute my dissertation and distinguish yourself with your own effort to dissertate and thus dissuade me.