invalid wife

Discussion in 'English Only' started by redgiant, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Background: Dr Kelso was having a hectic schedule in the hospital. He entrusted Janitor with a task of fetching cash from a pickle jar at home. When Janitor returned in a new leather jacket, Kelso suspected he bought it with money he stole from him. His suspicion grew stronger when he went home and saw his estranged wheelchair-bound wife in a plush pant suit. In this scene, he went back to confront Janitor, threatening to call the police on him if he didn't give the money back.

    I know "invalid" means "disabled", but I wonder if "invalid" strikes you as a minority usage that you'd rather use "disabled" instead.
  2. schoolhouse

    schoolhouse Member

    New England, USA
    USA English
    I'd prefer disabled.

    In reading it, I notice the ambiguity—that the wife might not be valid. When spoken aloud, the pronunciation would show which meaning is intended.

    Also I think of an invalid as being sick and usually confined to bed rather than as a disabled person in a wheelchair.
  3. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    Disabled usually refers to a permanent condition. An invalid is a person who has suffered a serious but often temporary illness.

    invalid1 /ˈɪnvəlɪd/
    nouna person made weak or disabled by illness or injury.

    Important note: There are two adjectives 'invalid' and they have exactly the same spelling but are pronounce differently.

    INvalid == weakened from illness

    inVALid == unsound or unrecognised
  4. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    In AE is there a difference in pronunciation between INvalid and inVALid as I described above?
  5. schoolhouse

    schoolhouse Member

    New England, USA
    USA English
    Yes. (When I noticed this was from a TV show, I edited my answer above.)
  6. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks for your help Biffo and schoolhouse~ Just rewatched that part. Yes, Janitor pronounced it as /ˈɪnvəlɪd/. Kelso's wife was disabled but also suffered ill health (obesity, glaucoma) . Perhaps Janitor was thinking more about those illnesses during the confrontation.
  7. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    So do I. Neither being obese nor having glaucoma would make her an invalid.
  8. shop-englishx Senior Member


    What's the difference among "invalid", "sick" and "disabled"? I have checked out the dictionary, but it did not give satisfactory answer..
  9. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    Please use one of the words in a sentence, with some context, so we have a specific example to discuss.
  10. shop-englishx Senior Member

    My wife is invalid/sick/disabled these days, she cannot go to the office.

    Student to his teacher: Sir, I have been sick/invalid/disabled for three days, this is why I couldn't come to school.

    Anna is sick/disabled/invalid today, she cannot talk to anyone.
  11. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    Your intended meaning is not clear: we still need context. For example, in your first sentence, is your wife chronically ill? Or does she simply ave a cold? Or has she broken her leg?
  12. shop-englishx Senior Member

    My wife is suffering form leg pain, she can walk but with great difficulty... sometimes she needs support of someone's else to help her move....
  13. Raynes Member

    English- UK
    In BE, invalid meaning 'a very sick person' (and pronounced 'IN-valid') is not an adjective. It's a noun. It is not interchangeable with disabled, which is an adjective, but it can be used as a modifier in certain circumstances.

    'My wife is invalid' is not possible. It must be, 'My wife is an invalid'. However, it is possible to say, 'My invalid wife' in the same way that it is possible to say, 'My paediatrician wife' or 'my banker wife'.

    Invalid meaning 'not valid' is an adjective, pronounced 'in-VA-lid'.
  14. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    A bit of an overstatement. OED
    I'd certainly agree that 'My wife is invalid' is not possible. (or even "is invalid" ;) ) But if the noun "invalid" is being used attributively (ie as a modifier) it is certainly functioning as an adjective.
  15. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    That still doesn't tell us enough to know whether she is sick (or ill) or disabled or an invalid. We still need more context, shop. Is the leg pain from an injury or an illness? Is her difficulty in walking a permanent disability, or long-term but intermittent, or is she expected to recover completely?


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