Adapted  from 101 Words I Don't Use by Paul Niquette

by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1997 Sophisticated:The Magazine. All rights reserved.

For me, browsing in a dictionary is like 
being turned loose in a bank. 
-- Eddie Cantor

What do...
    iconoclasm, iconoscope, idealist, identical, idolatry, illegible, illiterate, illogical, illuminate, illusionist, illusory, illustrative, illustrious, illuvial, imaginal, immaculate, immediate, immensity, immiscible, immobilize, immoderate, immortalize, immovable, immunity, immutable, impalpable, imparity, impartable, impassable, impeccable, impediment, impenitent, imperative, imperator, imperial, imperious, impermanent, impersonal, impersonate, impertinent, impervious, impetuous, implacable, implausible, importunate, impossible, impoverish, impressible, imprimatur, improbable, improbity, improvident, impuissance, impunity, impurity, imputable, imputative, inaccurate, inactivate, inadequate, inanimate, inanity, inappetence, inapposite, inaptitude, inaugurate, incapable, incapsulate, incarcerate, incarnadine, incertitude, incestuous, incinerate, inclinable, incogitate, incompetent, incongruent, inconsequent, inconsonant, incontinent, incorporate, incredible, incredulous, incriminate, inculpable, incumbency, incurable, incurious, indebtedness, indecency, indefinite, indelible, indelicate, indemnify, indicative, indifferent, indigenous, induplicate, indusium, industrial, inebriate, inedible, ineffable, inelegant, ineloquent, ineptitude, inequity, infallible, infanticide, infatuate, infeasible, inferior, infinity, infirmary, inflammable, inflexible, informative, infrangible, infuriate, infusible, ingenious, ingenuous, inglorious, ingratitude, ingredient, ingurgitate, inhabitant, inheritance, inhibitor, iniquitous, initiate, injurious, innocuous, innominate, inoculate, inodorous, inordinate, inosculate, inquietude, inquisitive, inquisitor, insalivate, insanity, insatiable, insatiate, inscrutable, insecticide, insectivore, inseminate, insensible, insensitive, insentient, insidious, insignia, insinuate, insipience, insolvency, insouciant, inspectorate, insurancy, insurgency, intangible, integrity, integument, intelligent, intemperate, intenerate, intensify, intentional, intercolate, interior, internalize, interpolate, interrogate, intestinal, intolerant, intoxicate, intuitive, invaginate, invalidate, invariant, invertebrate, investigate, investiture, inveterate, invidious, invigorate, invincible, inviolate, invisible, ionosphere, iridium, irradiate, irrational, irregular, irrelative, irresolute, irreverent, isochronize, isochroous, isogamy, isomerous, isometry, isosceles, isostasy, and itinerant
...have in common?
    They are four-syllable words with initial i.
Not only that but all 206 of them are accented on the second syllable.
    In four syllable words --from aluminum to zirconium, anatomy to zoology, agronomist to zymologist -- the accent feels most comfortable on the second syllable.
Nevertheless, even with 206 cases, we do not have a 'rule.' Ignominy has its accent on the first syllable. There are only 20 such four-syllable words with initial i and the accent on the first syllable...
    ichthyosaur, ideogram, idiocy, ideolect, ignominy, implicative, incubator, indicator, infrastructure, inhalator, inspirator, integrable, interesting, interloper, intimacy, inventory, irritable, isolable, issuable, and iterative.
Curiously, ignominy is the only one that gives me pronunciation problems.

Twenty exceptions would not be so bad -- if that were all; however, 118 four-syllable i-words are accented on the third syllable. Of those, 52 are acted on by an invisible 'ionic' force which draws the accent back to the third slot...

    illustration, imbrication, imitation, imperfection, implication, importation, imposition, imprecation, imputation, inanition, inattention, incantation, incarnation, inclination, incognito, indigestion, indignation, indiscretion, inflammation, information, inhibition, innovation, innutrition, inquisition, insulation, inspiration, installation, institution, insufflation, insulation, insurrection, integration, intellection, interdiction, interjection, intermission, intersection, intersession, intervention, introduction, introjection, intromission, introspection, introversion, intuition, inundation, invitation, invocation, involution, irrigation, irritation, and isolation.
Hooray, we have enough to make a 'rule for the exceptions.' Look here, 19 are really a couple of syllables with 'inter' stuck on the front...
    interceptor, intercostal, intercurrent, interdental, interference, interfertile, interlining, interlunar, intermarry, intermixture, internecine, interpleader, interregnum, interrupter, interstitial, intertexture, intertidal, intertribal, and interurban
...except that five have accents on their second syllable...
    intercolate, interior, internalize, interpolate, and interrogate
...and two others have first syllable accents...
    interesting and interloper.
Oh yes, two even have their accents on the fourth syllable...
    interconnect and interrelate.
Although ten have 'iso' in combination...
    isoclinal, isogamete, isohyet, isometric, isooctane, isoseismic, isomotic, isothermal, isotonic, and isotropic
...still, you have seven others with accented second syllables...
    isochronize, isochroous, isogamy, isomerous, isometry, isosceles, and isostasy.
That leaves 37 with unexplained accents on the third syllable...
    ichthyornis, ichthyorsis, idiotic, impetigo, inadvertent, inattentive, incandescent, incidental, incoherence, incompliant, inconclusive, inconsistent, indecisive, indecorum, independent, indication, inefficient, inelastic, inexpensive, inexplicit, inferential, influential, influenza, inharmonic, injudicious, innuendo, inobservance, inobtrusive, inoffensive, inofficious, inorganic, instrumental, insubstantial, insufficient, involucre, iridescent, and irresponsive.
You probably noticed that...
    indicator, indicative, and indication
...have common roots -- and a migratory accent.

In addition to...

    interconnect and interrelate
...mentioned above, there is a third four-syllable word with initial i which has its accent on the fourth syllable...
The minor matter of where to put the accent takes up space in our memories and time in our education. The cost is in billions. Once again, we observe the English Language frustrating the human need to generalize from the particular, confounding the child's struggle to bring order out of disorder, thwarting the teacher's labors to simplify the complex.
    That, in my book, deserves to be called igNOMiny.

    ignominy noun Dishonor; infamy {Return}

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