Dean Jacobs proposed searching for
adjectives that are commonly applied only to a single noun
(or maybe two or three synonyms).
Linguists call this sort of thing fixed colocation.
Here are some examples:
- Ulterior (motive)
- Opposable (thumbs)
- Bleeding-heart (liberal)
- Double-barreled (shotgun)
- Vise-like (grip)
- Preconceived (notion)
- Unrequited (love)
Some examples are technical words,
coined or specialized for a particular purpose:
- Nictitating (membrane)
- Diatomaceous (earth)
- Laminar (flow)
- Metamorphic/igneous/sedimentary (rock)
- Nondevelopable (surface)
- Prehensile (tail)
- Covalent (bond)
- Abelian (group)
Sometimes a cliche can provide a weak example:
- Erogenous (zone)
- Furtive (glance)
- Unwashed (masses)
- Harebrained (scheme)
- Untimely (end or death)
- New-car (smell)
- Insatiable (appetite, thirst, desire, lust)
- Voracious (appetite, reader)
- Brute (strength, force)
- Subliminal (message or advertising)
Some adverb examples:
- Hermetically (sealed)
- Polymorphously (perverse)
- Inextricably (intertwined, linked)
- Diametrically (opposed)
Please mail me if you
disagree with any of these or have other suggestions.
Mike O'Brien adds the following:
Interesting words, sort of in the same vein but not quite:
Tarmac, normally called asphalt, but at an airport it is tarmac.
Scudding: Seems to be a verb that only applies to clouds. Although I
once read that a ship could scud too.
Jut: A verb that applies to stationary, inanimate objects.