Saturday, November 17, 2012

Avoiding and averting

Can one avert a fiscal cliff? No, just as one cannot avert a mountain or a banana peel. Cliffs, like mountains and peels, are just there. One can avoid — “keep away from” — them, by paying attention and steering clear, or by putting on the brakes.

One can avert — “see coming and ward off” — an event, say, a disaster, such as the disaster of going over a cliff, literal or figurative. But the cliff itself? No.

[Definitions from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Written after listening to too much NPR.]

comments: 2

Pete said...

Sadly, given the state of our political leadership, we can probably avert neither the cliff nor going over the cliff.

Daughter Number Three said...

Reminds me of a book I just finished reading, by a teen writer, which had multiple examples of incorrect word choice. I can only assume it's because the writer doesn't know what the words he chose mean. Too many vocabulary lists and not enough context.