Intimate and intimate are easily misread words. A problem arises when a word is said the wrong way when read aloud. Its pronunciation doesn’t make sense given the context of the rest of the sentence.
One pronunciation works for the verb, another works for the adjective and noun. These are homographs, words that are spelled the same, but are pronounced in different ways and mean different things. Homographs are a kind of homonym, more on that here.
Intimate (pronounced “ihn-tih-MAYT”) is a verb.
- It means to imply or communicate without words (eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice)
- An older use of this word means to make known.
Intimate (pronounced “ihn-tuh-muht”) has multiple meanings.
- As an adjective, it describes scenarios of privacy, usually involving two people, or very limited company.
- As a noun, it describes clothing, usually underwear, bras, robes, bustiers, garter belts, corsets, etc.
The following story uses both words correctly:
“If there aren’t any other takers, I’ll need Ian to take the lead on this special project.”
No one else spoke for a second. Then Ian offered, “I have quite a bit on my plate already, actually…? Anyone else?” He looked around hopefully but all he saw were people who were checked out mentally, or people trying to avoid eye contact with him altogether.
“Well Ian, looks like it’s all yours,” Steve smiled. Then he turned to the crowd. “That’s all I have unless someone has questions.“
“I think we need to do my performance review,” Ian said. “Not here in the hall, of course. A more intimate setting than this.”
Steve didn’t really look at him when he said, “We’ll need to discuss that later. I can’t today. Anyone else?”
Ian intimated that his performance review wasn’t coming this week, again. And it had been postponed twice already. Why was he first in line for more work, but last in line for a review of what he’d done in the last year? When it was time to discuss a raise?
“Where should I pickup lunch from today?” asked Steve’s assistant.
“Philly’s Subs works for me. Okay, everyone, thanks! Gotta make some calls! You’re doing great!”
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JANUARY 28, 2021.