Define, “Enervate” (Ahem, Ahem)

“Mr. Obama’s goal, it seems, was to indicate his continued willingness to serve in a job he believes he can do better than the other guy, but that doesn’t really seem to enervate or enliven him. That’s a problem, and not only for the duration of the campaign.”

–Matt Bai, “Obama’s Enthusiasm Gap“; The New York Times (10/4/2012)

“Phan′-to-nym”: a word that looks as if it means one thing, but means quite another, and warrants wariness.

–Jack Rosenthal, “On Language: Phantonym“; The New York Times (9/25/2009)

One could doubtless live a full life never knowing what the word “enervate” means.

But, if you’re a columnist for The New York Times — or their editor — and want to use that word in an opinion piece (albeit at the very end), you really should know that it means “weaken” or “debilitate” (vs. a synonym for “energize”).

Or perhaps it was a Freudian slip??

P.S.:  William Safire, an illustrious NYT columnist (and language connoisseur) from days gone by, would have been mortified by Bai’s gaffe.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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