MWDEU on "impact" as a verb

Subject: MWDEU on "impact" as a verb
From: "Pickett-Harner, Molly" <mop1 -at- NIORDS1 -dot- EM -dot- CDC -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 1996 14:51:00 EST

I can't stand it any longer.

[abridged from >4 columns]

... the adverse criticism (apparently the earliest is that of the Heritage
usage panel in 1982)....part of the criticism seems to be based on the
erroneous notion that the verb is derived from the noun by functional
shift...[examples of criticisms].

But "impact" was a verb in English before it was a noun [!]; it is first
attested in 1601 and was brought in straight from the past participle of the
Latin verb that also gave us "impinge." ....this is not a case of a verb
derived from an earlier noun....The verb, however, did not establish itself
as steadily and rapidly as the noun did. [Examples quoted from politicians,
business & financial sources, etc.]

The variety of sources quoted...suggests that the figurative senses of the
verb impact are standard and reasonably well established....We find no
difference in degree of formality or typical context between transitive and
intransitive uses....It is too late now for complaint to prevent the
establishment of this use.


So we may impact clients with proverbial abandon?

Molly Pickett-Harner
mop1 -at- niords1 -dot- em -dot- cdc -dot- gov


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