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enervate – to weaken physically, mentally or morally (can also be used as an adjective.
This is a tricky word, as we'll see after the first set of quotes
    … the concern of the ever-paranoid Stalin that he was just being used to enervate Germany while enduring an unlimited bloodbath himself could quite comprehensibly drive him to compose his differences with Hitler …
    – Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom

    The Tory party, that mighty instrument, the most formidable fighting machine in political history, has become despondent, enervate and spineless.
    –Bruce Anderson, The Independent, Sep. 22, 2003
Many folks, Rowling included, mistakenly use enervate to mean energize – the direct opposite. Though the words seem similar, they have entirely different roots. Energize is from Greek energos, active. Enervate is from Latin nervus, sinew; the e- prefix is a negator as in emasculate. Indeed, an old and rare meaning of enervate was emasculate.)

Here are examples of Rowling misusing (and modifying) enervate in her fourth Potter book, plus another misuse by a Hollywood idol.
    "My elf has been stunned." Diggory raised his own wand, pointed it at Winky, and said, "Ennervate!" Winky stirred feebly. Her great brown eyes opened.

    Krum was sprawled on the forest floor. He seemed to be unconscious. Then Dumbledore bent over Krum again, pointed his wand at him, and muttered, "Ennervate." Krum opened his eyes. He looked dazed.

    "He is simply Stunned, Winky. Step aside, please. … " Dumbledore … pointed his wand at the man's chest and said, "Ennervate." Crouch's son opened his eyes. His face was slack, his gaze unfocussed.

    the Democratic National Convention … Cambridge-spawned super-Democrat Ben Affleck again misused the word "enervate" … . He told the noisy gang that "on the whole, I believe it's been a very successful and enervating and exciting convention."
    – Sarah Rodman, Boston Herald, July 30, 2004
 
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Innervate means the opposite of enervate, at least in biology, and sounds much the same.
 
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I don't think enervate (pace the dear Brits) is properly an adjective, either. And as for those folks who not only use it to mean its opposite but spell it with two N's, well...

Beth J
 
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One can understand the spelling mistake, though, since innervate has 2 ns and enervate has 1.

Enervate also can mean the removal or dissection of a nerve.
 
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Did Rowling use 'enervate' at all? No example is given. The spell command 'Ennervate', as with all her spells, is a pseudo-Latin form that, quite deliberately I presume, is never real Latin. (At least, offhand I can't think of any of the spells that are real Latin.) It looks like it's formed as en- + nerv- and is therefore quite appropriate for putting something into nerves.
 
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pouf – a low stuffed or padded seat or cushion

We see poufs in the fourth and fifth Potter books, where the students have a class in Divination.
    Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil, who deeply admired professor Trelawney, were sitting on poufs very close to her.

    Ron looked around carefully, spotted Harry and made directly for him, or as directly as he could while having to wend his way between tables, chairs and overstuffed poufs.
Bonus word:
witenagemot
– a council of high churchmen and nobility of Anglo-Saxon England, ~700 to 1200 A.D., convened periodically to advise the King
[Old English wita councilor + gemot meeting]

Rowling puns on witenagemot in her fifth book.
    They've demoted him from Chief Warlock on the Wizengamot — that's the Wizard High Court …
 
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I would normally spell the word pouffe.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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conjunctivitis – inflamation of the eye-membrane (called the conjunctiva) that covers the eyeball and lines the eyelid

Rowling, seeking to educate and instruct her readers, provides practical data should the reader ever encounter a dragon. Harry uses magic to defeat a Hungarian Horntail dragon, and soon after he receives a letter.
    Dear Harry,
    Congratulations on getting past the Horntail. I was going to suggest a Conjunctivitis Curse, as a dragon's eyes are its weakest point, but your way was better. I'm impressed.
 
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And of course the layman's term for conjunctivitis is pink eye. I can just envision a dragon with conjunctivitis...those great big eyes all inflammed and pinkish and filled with yellowish drainage. Yuk!
 
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frisson - a sudden thrill of fear, or other excitement [from French for 'shiver']
replete - filled or well-supplied, esp. with food

Rowling contrasts the two in here fifth book (here somewhat amended for brevity).
    Three helpings of rhubarb crumble and custard later and the waistband on Harry's jeans was feeling uncomfortably tight. Mr. Weasley was leaning back in his chair, looking replete and relaxed, Tonks was yawning widely ... "Nearly time for bed, I think."
    . . . .Said Sirius, turning to Harry, "I'm surprised at you. I thought the first thing you'd do when you got here would be to start asking questions about Voldemort."
    . . . .The atmosphere in the room changed with rapidity ... Where seconds before it had been sleepily relaxed, it was now alert, even tense. A frisson had gone around the table at the mention of Voldemort's name.
 
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We resume the word-of-the-day. The "Harry Potter" theme will be a transition to the new theme that will start tomorrow.

umbrage – offence or resentment at a slight or insult
Typically in the phrase take umbrage. Some say 'take umbrage at'; others 'take umbrage with'; still others 'take umbrage to'.
    Some coaches would take umbrage to torrents of criticism, or even the mildest objection. Bellefeuille is not of that ilk.
    – Rob Vanstone, The Leader-Post (Canada), Aug. 31, 2005
The Potter connection is Dolores Umbridge, a major character in the fifth Potter book, who comes Hogwarts School from the Ministry of Magic. Her name would be appropriate if she were easily offended. But she is not: she is a simpering, controlling woman of sugary voice, who treats the students "as though they were five years old".

Why then does Rowling give her that name? The answer will come tomorrow, as we start our new theme.
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Kalleh:
One can understand the spelling mistake, though...QUOTE]

Dear me, Kalleh, I'm going to have to meet your husband in a bookstore again and have a word with him. One doesn't "understand" spelling mistakes; one brings out the troops and the firing squads. For the proper frame of reference, reread the intro to Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. The section on militant action by the Apostrophe Protection Society is most instructive.
Smile
Beth J

Remember: The youth of tomorrow depend upon you. The youth of today are already hopeless.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Typically in the phrase take umbrage. Some say 'take umbrage at'; others 'take umbrage with'; still others 'take umbrage to'.[LIST]


Has this been checked in the OED? I think I shall have a look. I cannot remember any great author ever using it in any other combination than UMBRAGE AT. TO might just be acceptable, but WITH is absolutely out of the question; I am sure of that.

Thanks for relieving us of Harry Potter; I have not read a word of it, wonder why otherwise smart people do, and have been waiting with bated breath for the discussion of this (semi-literate) outpouring for the masses to end.

Beth J
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Beth:
quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Typically in the phrase take umbrage. Some say 'take umbrage at'; others 'take umbrage with'; still others 'take umbrage to'.[LIST]


Has this been checked in the OED? I think I shall have a look. I cannot remember any great author ever using it in any other combination than UMBRAGE AT. TO might just be acceptable, but WITH is absolutely out of the question; I am sure of that.


Just did check it in OED: found out three things:
(1) It's quite a modern usage. Milton wouldn't have said it in this way.
(2) One can either TAKE UMBRAGE AT (if you're the one who's mad)... or
(3) GIVE UMBRAGE TO (if you've made someone mad).

I have never heard anyone say the latter, but it sounds right to my ear. No other prepositions are mentioned. Creativity in prepositions, as I tell students frequently, is not a virture.

Beth J
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
quote:
Bonus word: witenagemot – a council of high churchmen and nobility of Anglo-Saxon England, ~700 to 1200 A.D., convened periodically to advise the King
[Old English wita councilor + gemot meeting]


It's actually from witan as the first part of the word, that having been something like, in a very misunderstood way, the national council of advisers to the king in Anglo Saxon times. You can verify that in the OED. English historical mythology has great fun with this idea, making it out that the wit, scholars shorthand for it, was the mother of all Parliaments and of liberalism itself.

A lot can rest on etymology - history, politics, belief systems, worldviews... cold wars, hot wars. (Thou happenest to have touched my research field, so I have a tendency to ramble. I will now shut up.)

Beth J
 
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