My job is utter insanity right now. I’ve mentioned before that back to school time makes me the equivalent of an elf on Christmas Eve. So being extremely overwhelmed has left me feeling a little bit loopy. For me, loopy = inquisitive. Why? Not so sure, but I keep coming back to one question:
If work is overwhelming me and my resulting social life is underwhelming me – can I just be whelmed?
You could assume that since the prefix over- and under- are added to the base whelm, whelm itself would be a feeling or a state relating to the above adjectives. Let’s look at the words:
Overwhelm: adj. have a strong emotional effect on.
Underwhelm: adj. fail to impress or make a positive impact on (someone); disappoint.
For our purposes, I have defined the words according to the way I am using them in this context. So, you would assume that these are compound words and therefore can be separated into two morphemes – or roots. Let’s try:
Over: prep. higher, more.
Under: prep. lower, less.
Whelm: verb. engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).
Because whelm is defined in relation to someone or something, we can consider that something to be an emotion or a physical item. You can be engulfed in rage or sadness – or even kittens! I would love to be whelmed in kittens! 🙂
Conclusion. Over/underwhelmed is a compound word BECAUSE when separated each root still contains the same meaning in the compound word.
BOOM. There’s your linguistics lesson for the day. Can you tell that I miss teaching it?