Posted by Word Camel on January 10, 2002 at
Dropping H's from the front of words is generally considered a 'no-no'. It caused me years of frustration in the UK where I searched in vain for the location of places like 'atfield, and scowered the dictionary looking for the word 'ump - as in "She got the 'ump because we were late."
Now that I am back on the other side of the pond, I am bothered by the word 'herb'. In American English it is considered proper to drop the 'H' from the front of the word. It is also dropped from the word herbage. And yet - and this is where it gets weird - it is not properly dropped from the words, 'herbaceous', 'herbal' or 'herbalist'.
Does anyone have any idea why the 'h' is dropped or why the inconsistency? I'm also interested to know whether there are any other words in American English that follow the same principle? I can't think of any.