Uh oh

Just saw this in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Question: Now I am seeing “reticent” and “reluctant” confused with each other, a development that makes me shiver and remember when “impact” became a bad verb, which it still is. Do you think public shaming via, say, a raucous outpouring of tweets would stem the tide of ignorant folly before it overwhelms and drowns us all in a tsunami of inanity?

Answer: No.

My Boss Is Ungrammatical

I love that. Very funny.

Of course, now I’m wondering whether I myself perceive a difference between reticent and reluctant.

Answer: not really.

Fully agree that impact’s ascent to verb status was a bad development.

2 thoughts on “Uh oh

  1. “Fully agree that impact’s ascent to verb status was a bad development.”

    Those horrible 17th century writers!

    FWIW, “impact” was a verb in English before it was a noun (first attested in 1601), and MWDEU’s verdict is, “… the figurative senses of the verb _impact_ are standard and reasonably well established.”

    Which is mostly to say that I would extend the _Chronicle’s_ answer to caviling about “impact” as a verb as well.

    But, again in the words of MWDEU, “You need not use this verb if you find it unappealing; a periphrastic substitute (often including the noun) will suggest itself for nearly any context in which the verb might be used, and sometimes another verb such as _affect_, _influence_, _impinge_, or _hit_ may serve.”


  2. Ack! Reticent used for reluctant is one of my pet peeves. I started hearing it a few years ago. Reticent should mean you don’t want to say something; reluctant should mean you don’t want to do something. So a statement like “I was reticent to go to the doctor” is just wrong, wrong, wrong, except in a few decades it will probably be accepted through constant use.


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