beleaguered / embattled

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Trevelyan said "The top thing we do not have time for is haring off after..."

"A person," Katarina said. "A person in this city, this beleaguered city were trying to-"

"trying to save," Trevelyan said. "We're trying to save them all....."
Source: Timepiece, Heather Albano

Background: The story was set in an alternate story where London was a smoke-filled dystopia plagued by poverty, crime and a dictatorship that enforced its power with thousands of gun-wielding robots. Trevelyan and Katarina were hired by an underground group that aimed to bring down the government. In this scene, when Trevelyan was preparing for tonight's testing of his new weapons on some of the patrolling robots, Katarina told him she needed to rescue a daughter of her friend's from a child trafficking ring. He snapped at her, and said that she should focus on the larger picture rather than distracting from the primary goal. Saving an irrelevant daughter would interfere his schedule and ,even worse, attract the government's attention.

Hi, according to WR and MacMillan dictionaries,

Beleaguered:
1.having a lot of problems or criticism to deal with (MacMillandictionary)

Embattled:
1 beset by problems or difficulties. (WR dictionary)
the difference seems to be very slim. Is it acceptable to use "embattled" in place of "beleaguered" without changing the original meaning?
 
  • Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    I think it is acceptable. I prefer beleaguered here though.

    The reason is that origin of the word embattled is of course battle. When you use it with a city, the first image that comes to mind is a city that has repeatedly been attached from the outside, which this one has not been.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks for your help Embonpoint. I didn't get that strong "battle" impression when I started the thread because the first time I came across the word it was used to describe a scandal-ridden governor, and it somehow stuck to my mind that "embattled" was usually used in a metaphor sense. But now that you pointed it out, I can see the word can be strongly associated with war when used with cities, countries, unless readers know for sure you're using metaphor.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Thanks for your help Embonpoint. I didn't get that strong "battle" impression when I started the thread because the first time I came across the word it was used to describe a scandal-ridden governor, and it somehow stuck to my mind that "embattled" was usually used in a metaphor sense. But now that you pointed it out, I can see the word can be strongly associated with war when used with cities, countries, unless readers know for sure you're using metaphor.
    Exactly. I know that embattled has a broader meaning. But when you say it with a city, it's the battles that come to mind. So this is a case where on paper the words are very similar but in practice you might want to use beleaguered.
     
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