Dear Discriminating People,

Please ignore this advice. Careful use of language involves making careful distinctions while using words. That requires a presumption in favour of adding more words to the language.

Yes, the verb form of terror is terrify. The verb form of terrorist is terrorise. The two actions are different and so we need two different words for them. The first is what a victim feels while the second refers to what the perpetrators do.  The population of a city is not just terrified by terrorist strikes.  Terrorist strikes make the population fearful, increase uncertainty, make people suspicious of one another, cause increased security measures, among other things. We do need a verb form to convey those actions.

Similarly, operationalise may be an ugly word, but it is certainly needed. We need a verb to refer to the act of transforming  a strategic decision into operational rules to be followed by the rank and file.

6 thoughts on “Dear Discriminating People,

  1. Spot on. It is amusing to see people resort to intellectual snobbery about vocabulary addition to a 14th cetury language that owes its success, among other things, to precisely this tradition of vocabulary additions.

  2. Operationalize is an ugly word.

    I recently saw someone use ‘incent’. It means to incentivize. An ugly word supposed to mean another ugly word. Both could be easily replaced with ‘encourage’.

    Keep it simple and stupid. That is where beauty lies.

    Kudos to you for telling why terrify and terrorize are different. The original author at that link needs to read a lot more.

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