Favorite

‘The decision and the opinions will be impactful,’ said Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association, which has supported the school districts in the lower courts.”

Jim Lynch writes: “Note the use of ‘impactful.’ Really now! For years I have been annoyed by people changing the noun ‘impact’ to a verb, and now this!”

The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style feels as strongly about impact as Lynch does. Originally, impact (pronounced IM-pact) was a noun meaning “a violent contact or a striking of an object against another, or the force or shock of that contact or striking together,” Penguin says. Then it began to be misused as a synonym for effect, influence, result, etc., as in “The floods will have a very small impact on prices.”

“Strictly speaking, ‘a very small impact’ is a contradiction,” Penguin says. “Use impact to suggest violence or power in the way things come together.”

Already weakened, impact was further abused by being forced into illegitimate verbhood, as in “The question is how the downtown ballpark will impact our already congested streets and highways.” The verb should be affect, not impact, Penguin says, and the only correct use of impact as a verb is “to squash something or to press things together tightly, the way a garbage truck impacts garbage.” In that case, the word is pronounced im-PACT rather than IM-pact.

And finally Penguin gets to the latest outrage: “On a radio talk show, a lawyer presented the type of final argument that he thought the prosecution should make in a current murder trial. The hostess responded with an adjectival creation, ‘It’s an impactful statement to have been made,’ as though the misuse of the i-word as a noun and a verb were not enough.”

I share the Lynch-Penguin concerns, but to be fair, I have to report that not everyone does. The Random House Dictionary says that the verb impact (pronounced IM-pact), meaning “to have an impact or effect on,” is, though recent, now “entirely standard.” Random House does not recognize impactful, however, and neither does my spellchecker. Maybe we can hold the line there. Probably not.


Favorite

  |  

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

  • Rutledge meddles in women's healthcare in Ohio

    Now Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is working to deprive Ohio women of healthcare. If her work in Arkansas is any indication, it won't be good for Ohio women.
    • Aug 13, 2018
  • State Hospital escapee captured in Memphis

    James Barrett,  who escaped from the Arkansas State Hospital Saturday was captured by U.S. marshals today at a Motel 6 in Memphis, KARK/Fox 16 reports.
    • Aug 13, 2018
  • Monday, Monday

    A slow start to the week. Here's the open line, plus some odds and ends of news and comment.
    • Aug 13, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation