permeate, pervade, spread, diffuse

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Orlanada

Member
Mandarin
Hi guys, I saw a sentence in the dictionary, it says:
"The air is thin and crisp, filled with hazy sunshine and frost."
Can I interchange the "filled with" with "spread with", "pervaded with", "diffused with" or "permeated with"? Which is the most natrual?
Thanks for your help :)
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Spread' is the most common word out of those. The rest are literary, so a novelist might choose to use them. For some reason, however, the passive 'spread with' doesn't work here. A table can be spread with food - and a slice of bread can be spread with butter - but it doesn't seem right even when sunshine or scents or whatever have spread through the air.

    Strictly, sunshine does not spread (or pervade or diffuse or permeate), in an active way: that's more appropriate for things like smoke, which starts in one place and moves outward to fill a wider space. But I think a literary description would allow the others in the passive.

    I'm glad you haven't asked what the difference is between pervade, diffuse, and permeate. Too subtle to decide.
     

    Orlanada

    Member
    Mandarin
    'Spread' is the most common word out of those. The rest are literary, so a novelist might choose to use them. For some reason, however, the passive 'spread with' doesn't work here. A table can be spread with food - and a slice of bread can be spread with butter - but it doesn't seem right even when sunshine or scents or whatever have spread through the air.

    Strictly, sunshine does not spread (or pervade or diffuse or permeate), in an active way: that's more appropriate for things like smoke, which starts in one place and moves outward to fill a wider space. But I think a literary description would allow the others in the passive.

    I'm glad you haven't asked what the difference is between pervade, diffuse, and permeate. Too subtle to decide.
    It's very kind of you to give such a detailed and clear answer, thanks!!!
     
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