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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ruined Words - Seduce

I like the word 'seduce', but you can't seem to use it anymore in anything other than a sexual sense. The original meaning of the word was to lead astray, coming straight out of the Latin.

MW gives me three definitions:
  1. to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty
  2. to lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises
  3. to carry out the physical seduction of : entice to sexual intercourse

According to the OED (Online Etymology Dictionary), the sexual connotation showed up in the 1550s, which should have been well more than a thousand years after the original. Nowadays it seems the only version in use is the third - the last to show up.

I had used the term on a teen lately when I told him that his "friends"  were not friends at all, as they had seduced him into doing something that he knew was wrong. He got all 'wait a minute...there's nothing sexual between me and them' on me.

Oy. Just another example of a word that we can't really use anymore. Even though Darth Vader was 'seduced by the dark side'. Folks seem to understand that...or do they? Is that another case of "once you go black...?" :)


  1. Blame the Graduate: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me"

  2. Talk to anyone who's been on a diet. We'll tell you stories of being seduced by chocolate, home made bread and maple bacon. Many a time while on a housekeeping bender I've been seduced by the sight of pen and paper on my desk. I think we still use the word as it was originally intended. There is, sadly, many a word that has been corrupted and one has to be careful how one uses it.

    1. Aye; I've got a number such words lined up in my mind for consideration, and it is a sad thing

  3. An interesting observation:

    You talk a lot about human beings and evolution. When traits change in humans, you don't refer to the old version as ruined. However when language evolves, you do.

    Language is created by humans, it's only reasonable to assume it would change as the race does.

  4. You're not entirely wrong...and not entirely right either! I have indeed (though perhaps not here) lamented at the ruination of humanity in our quest for progress.

    I have also (on my conversation on the word 'ignorant') referred to this linguistic ruination as the evolution of language.

    And you're right: that's a reasonable expectation.

  5. I do mourn some of the changes in our language. I think that we are losing words faster than we gain them, and also that many of the words we do gain like sexting for example will be short lived.

  6. Oh my goodness, his response is so funny! It seems to me that everything has un-evolved to have sexual connotations. Society is sex obsessed. We're all animals! Aaaaaargh! I had to segretate myself from society in order to think rationally again. "Intimate" is another one... I find myself having to re-learn language to wash away my twenties. Ick.

  7. I love the word 'silly'. It once meant blessed, which is why I call my Frankie (dog) silly.

  8. Speaking of words you can't use, you can't use OY! That's OUR word!