Deviate as a transitive verb

catullus27

New Member
English - US
Hi,
I'm writing a paper about Socrates, and am trying to figure out if it's acceptable to use the word "deviate" as a transitive verb - to cause to deviate, rather than just to deviate. For example,

"Socrates is guilty of deviating the youth, but not of corrupting them."

It sounds really weird to me but the dictionary lists both kinds of verbs. Thoughts? Has anyone actually ever seen it used this way?
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree. It sounds weird. :)

    What are you trying to say about Socrates? What are they deviating from?

    With a little more background on your intent I'm sure we cound find a better verb than "deviate".

    A plane deviates around bad weather.
    A baffle can deviate the flow of a liquid or gas.

    There are many ways to use "deviate" as a transitive or intransitive verb, but this is not one of them, in my opinion.
     
    Last edited:

    catullus27

    New Member
    English - US
    Thanks for the fast response!
    I'm using it in the sense of the second sentence - causing deviation. It's not terribly important that I use the transitive form, it's mostly for stylistic reasons. I'm basically arguing that his conviction rests on the fact that his influence causes the youth to deviate from Athenian social norms, but that he's not "corrupting" them in an objective moral sense because Athens is a luxurious city. I'll just use it as a noun or an adjective, I guess.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Are you looking for alternatives? Like, Socrates alienated the youth from Athenian social norms? Or he subverted them?
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I think deviate is still the word I want, it has the sense I'm looking for. That said, subversive is a good word too. Thx.
    Well, maybe pervert would carry more of the implication of deviancy you're going for-- but it's a little dated, and disliked by the PC crowd.
     

    catullus27

    New Member
    English - US
    I thought about that, but the definitions and synonyms for pervert are still negative. I'm going for something with no negative connotation other than going against the norm.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Your wording here is clear, with a couple of minor alterations:
    ... [Socrates'] conviction rests on the fact that his influence causes the youth to deviate from Athenian social norms, but [that] he's not "corrupting" them in an objective moral sense ....
    You might use this, or a variation of it.
     
    Last edited:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I know, in my paper I'm arguing that he wasn't corrupting them, and that Athens, as a luxurious city, was the corrupt party in the situation.
    But if you are speaking of what he was charged with, then you necessarily will have to use a negative word. People are not put on trial for things that are perceived as neutral; they are put on trial for things that are negative. Now, you can argue that he was not guilty of the charge -- but the charge itself cannot be neutral.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    As I understand it, Catullus is talking about the reason Socrates was found guilty, not the charge that was brought against him.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top