Friday, March 02, 2007


I was reading about the tornado that hit Georgia and Alabama and the headline read "Tornado Terrorizes Alabama Town." I hate that headline. It sounds like a gunman, a rabid dog, or a terrorist. To me, to "terrorize" implies volition. And I don’t think that works with a storm (except in poetry & then you’d better be very talented).

Not to downplay the graveness of the story. I was as sorry as anyone to learn of it. I just cringe at the verb. To terrorize and to terrify are not the same thing. “Slam," “pound” or “rip through,” though hardly original, all work better, leaving the offensive personification out.


Hedgie said...

Unfortunately, when a word enters public consciousness -- as "terrorist" has -- it tends to displace linguistic near relatives in common usage.

Having been within 3 - 5 miles of one outburst of those tornadoes last night, and having gotten to watch on Live Doppler Radar (pride of one of the local channels) as rotating storm areas came closer and closer over a period of a couple of hours -- only to miss by that short 3 - 5 mile distance -- I was at the very least a wee tad nonplussed, to say the least.

SarahJane said...

i can, or maybe I can't, imagine. very sorry that the storm killed those people. i lived in kansas for a spell and experienced a couple hurricane warnings, but we never suffered the brunt of it. it always seemed to gravitate to the mobile home counties.

anyway, in this case the word "terrorize" is completely inappropriate and stupid.

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