Re: Hang-up with the word "impact". Prescriptive usage?

Subject: Re: Hang-up with the word "impact". Prescriptive usage?
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 1996 08:50:00 EST

At 12:12 AM 3/20/96 GMT, you wrote:
>Does anyone besides me have a personal hang-up with the word "Impact?"
>I was taught that "impact" meant the amount force between two objects
>when they collide, like a plane and a mountain top.

>The following sentence IS correct.

>"The plane smashed into the mountain top with tremendous impact."

>To me, the sentence below IS NOT correct.

>"Borden's new marketing plan will impact the industry and force
>competitors to follow their lead."

>In the above sentence "impact" should be replaced with "affect."
>Unless Borden's marketing plan somehow causes physical or material
>damage when it smashes into the broadside of their competitor's office

I have little problem when the sentence actually implies some sort of major
effect: "The new federal law, mandating every person to have a shotgun, will
have a major impact on the weapons industry." But I find it overused. We had
a contract to rewrite materials for a local government agency. There, the
lay writers had liberally sprinkled "impact" throughout the document. Now, I
don't like the use of it at the best of times, but our little bitty city
can't possibly have much impact on the federal government, no matter how
hard we try.

I feel the same irks over "insure" and "ensure." Sure, they come from the
same stem word, but I'd like to keep "insure" pristine and use it only for
the insurance industry. The distinction has never been sharply maintained,
so most dictionaries give them as synonyms.

Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice)
317.899.5987 (fax)

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