I have a strange (to me) short-sightedness when it comes to the underlining meaning of certain words. I have no idea if this problem is common. I feel quite foolish when I realize what I’ve been “missing.” Here’s the most recent one. It only occurred to me this week that the word vacation must be derived from the word vacate, as in vacating one place for another. Right? Before I simply thought of vacation as a word unto itself.
Cavity, as in your tooth, is another such word. I hate to tell you how long I had no idea a cavity in a tooth meant a HOLE in the tooth. To my thinking, cavities were just undesirable mysterious tooth troubles, possibly caused by too much sugar. Um, not exactly.😐 I failed to think of the actual definition of the word. No one ever showed me a picture of a cavity in someone’s teeth, let alone my own, so it simply never clicked. I grasped that cavities were treated with “fillings” but I didn’t comprehend what was being filled, especially since the end result was always the whole tooth being filled not a tiny hole or tiny cavity.
My last example is also a toothy one. After orthontia, a patient wears a retainer. I had one that I wore but ultimately threw out some decades after receiving it. It never occurred to me that the device was intended to retain the shape of the corrected teeth. Once again, the connection simply didn’t happen. To me a retainer was just the name of the item. Oh geez, braces is another, of course. They “brace” the teeth, something that never crossed my mind till this moment!
I don’t know what this tendency is but I’m sure I do it with many other words too. My vocabulary isn’t too shabby but something about taking a word out of its context or applying it a different way can make it unrecognizable to me.