You can debunk something, but why can’t you bunk something?

As readers, we recognize prefixes, like dis-, in-, non- and un-, as expressing negation. We immediately know that “unfair” means “not fair.” However, there are some clear exceptions to these rules. Such anomalies can cause  confusion for a few reasons. For one, the prefix in- also literally means in, such as inquire, inclose, and insure. The word impromptu for instance comes directly from the Latin phrase in promptu that means “in readiness.”

In other cases, the original root word was lost to time. For example, insipid, meaning bad taste, comes from the word sapid, meaning tasteful. Today insipid is used much more often than sapid.

One particularly tangled example of negative prefixes is the pair ravel and unravel. The word ravel comes from the Dutch word ravelen meaning to tangle or unweave. The word simultaneously means to disentangle and to entangle because in sewing as you unwind a thread, it becomes tangled.

Debunk was originally a neologism by author William Woodward in his 1923 book Bunk, whose main character “de-bunked” nonsense or illusions, basically bursting bubbles.

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Are there other words that you come across that were contrary to your expectation?

Misspelling voids letter of credit. this web site letter of credit

American Banker May 14, 1985 NEW YORK — A federal appeals court has ruled that the misspelling of a name on a bill of lading relieved Irving Trust Co. of the duty to honor a letter of credit.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of appeals for the Second Circuit last week affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a suit filed against the New York bank brought by Dessaleng Beyene.

“We agree with the district court that the misspelling in this case was a material discrepancy that relieved Irving of its duty to pay the letter of credit,” Circuit Judge Amalya L. Kearse said in the opinion.

The facts in the case were undisputed by the two sides.

In March 1978, Mr. Beyene sold two prefabricated houses to Mohammed Sofan, a resident of the Yemen Arab Republic. Mr. Sofan attempted to finance the purchase with a letter of credit issued by the Yemen Bank for Reconstruction & Development in favor of Mr. Beyene.

The Yemen bank designated Irving Trust as the confirming bank for the letter of credit, and Mr. Beyene designated the National Bank of Washington as his collecting bank.

In may 1979, National Bank send Irving Trust all the documents required under the terms of the letter of credit. However, Irving Trust noted several discrepancies in the documents, including the fact that the bill of lading listed the party to be notified by the shipping company as Mohammed Soran instead of Mohammed Sofan.

An Irving Trust official notified National Bank of the discrepancy. It also requested authorization from the Yemen bank to pay the letter of credit despite the discrepancy. But the authorization was not forthcoming and Irving Trust refused to pay.

Mr. Beyene sued Irving Tust, seeking damages for its failure to pay the letter of credit.

The district court dismissed the suit on the sole ground that the misspelling of Mr. Sofan’s name on the bill of lading constituted a material discrepancy that gave Irving the right to refuse to honor the letter of credit. web site letter of credit

The plaintiff appealed the decision, claiming that the lower court’s ruling was “unsound as a matter of precedent and of policy.” The terms of a letter of credit generally require the beneficiary of the letter to submit to the issuing bank documents such as an invoice and a bill of lading to provide the buyer with some assurance that he will receive the goods for which he arranged payment, the court said.

“While some variations in a bill of lading might be so insignificant as not to relieve the issuing or confirming bank of its obligation to pay,” the appeals court’s ruling said, “we agree with the district court that a misspelling…was a material discrepancy that entitle Irving to refuse to honor the letter of credit.

The decision said the misspelling of Mr. Sofan’s name was not a case in which the name intended was “unmistakably clear” despite what was obviously a typographical error.

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