Printable Version
Pronunciation: en-êr-vayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. (Medicine) To remove a nerve. 2. To deprive of vitality or energy.

Notes: Today's word lies close to a trap that catches many of us: the confusion of this Good Word with its near antonym, innervate "to inject with vitality and energy". (This problem parallels the confusion of ensure "to make sure" and insure "to guarantee value by purchasing insurance".) The action noun for today's word is enervation and the actor noun, enervator "someone who drains vitality or energy from an endeavor". Enervative is the adjective.

In Play: Outside the hospital, this verb may be used metaphorically to refer to many kinds of weakening: "The new offer, which included the company yacht, enervated the last bit of resistance to the sale". Both these words find many applications in business (so long as they are not confused): "The replacement of our president innervated every level of our company while enervating our competitors."

Word History: This Good Word is built on the past participle, enervatus, of the Latin verb, enervare "to weaken by removing the sinews", from e(x)- "out of' + nervus "sinew", the source of our word nerve. The same root which produced nervus turned up in Greek as neuron "sinew", borrowed by English for its word neuron, a type of brain cell. The origin of the Latin and Greek words is PIE (s)neu- "tendon, sinew" with a Fickle S. It is also the source of Sanskrit snavan- "band, sinew", Armenian neard "sinew", English sinew, Dutch zenuw "nerve, sinew", and German Sehne "tendon, sinew".

Dr. Goodword,

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