compound the damage vs. make the situation worse

NewAmerica

Banned
Mandarin
If "compound the damage" were replaced with "make the situation worse", what is the difference for the meaning of the sentence? The former seems to be a bit pedantic while the latter is casual. I am not sure.

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Much is at stake. Economists predict China's GDP may shrink 10% in the first quarter of this year, the worst contraction since 1976. With Europe and America wrestling with their own epidemics, demand for China's manufactured goods has collapsed—aside from masks and medical equipment and supplies. Recurring COVID-19 outbreaks in China would compound the damage.

Source: Science By Dennis Normile Mar. 29, 2020
Can China return to normalcy while keeping the coronavirus in check?
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    If "compound the damage" were replaced with "make the situation worse", what is the difference for the meaning of the sentence?
    The meaning is much the same but the former emphasises that the damage would be significantly worsened. The latter doesn't really refer to how much worse it would become.
    The former seems to be a bit pedantic while the latter is casual.
    The former is more formal but it isn't pedantic, and not in this passage in any case.
     
    Last edited:

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    Would "make the situation much worse" match up the stressing nature or emphatic implication of "compound the damage"?

    Thank you. :)
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Close but not really. "Compound" has a certain meaning. And the phrase itself is an established one that's understood in a certain way.
     
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