Skip to content

enervate-watch 2

April 30, 2012

He’s at it again. In today’s Indie, Ian Herbert on the sports pages says that ‘Some will doubt the potential of [Hodgson’s] 4-4-2 systems to enervate either fans or his players’. Obviously enervate is here intended to mean excite, rather than its true meaning, which is to weaken, debilitate or dispirit – etymologically, to remove the nerve from (e-nerv-ate). Where did Herbert get the idea that it means to excite?

Presumably it is because enervate sounds vaguely similar to energise. It’s not uncommon for a word to be assimilated to another word which sounds similar – think of fortuitous drifting away to become a synonym for fortunate, or laconic becoming a synonym for ironic. But the case of enervate is unusual, in that by this process it’s acquiring a meaning which isn’t just different from its original meaning, but diametrically opposite to it. Can we stop this? I’d like to think so, but I doubt it.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: