Re: MWDEU on "impact" as a verb

Subject: Re: MWDEU on "impact" as a verb
From: Brad Connatser <concom -at- USIT -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 15:51:57 GMT

In article <314FE3C8 -at- SmtpOut -dot- em -dot- cdc -dot- gov>, "Pickett-Harner, Molly"
<mop1 -at- niords1 -dot- em -dot- cdc -dot- gov> wrote:

... 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.

The only problem I have with the lavish use of "impact" is that it has all
but displaced "effect," "affect," and "influence." The word "impact"
connotes a physical, sometimes violent meeting of objects. Because of its
overuse, "impact" has lost its particular meaning.

Brad Connatser
Concurrent Communications
concom -at- usit -dot- net

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