sate/slake their thirst

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Example:
Humans have long held a deep fascination with the morbid. Before televisions and the Internet came along, this could be problematic: It's not as if people could just sate their thirst for freakology with a Twilight Zone marathon or a wee hours Creepypasta binge.

Source: The 6 Most Terrifying Things People Used to Do With the Dead

The quote text is part of the opening paragraph of an article at cracked.com. "Sate their thirst" reminds me of another expression "slake their thirst" and they seem pretty close in meaning according to WR Dictionary.
How do they compare in terms of meaning? Do they share the same meaning to you?
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I've never seen it used like that. To be honest I don't think I've seen it used much at ask. Insatiable, on the other hand, is very common in my experience.

    Is thirst the same as an appetite/desire? which seen to be the key words in our dictionary's definition of the verb. I'd use slake for thirst myself.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you very much suzi and Loob. I agree "slake for thirst" would be much better. The use of "sate" sticks out to me as very odd.
     

    outeast

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I think suzi's instinctive preference for 'slake' over 'sate' with thirst is well-founded. Google hit counts are an unreliable guide (I'll do better when I've learned some proper corpus-mining skills!) but the weighting for 'slake a thirst' over 'sate a thirst' is so dramatic that I'm inclined to think that using 'sate' in this context is non-standard. I think more commonly 'sate' goes with hunger, 'slake' with thirst.

    That said, my dictionary argues that 'sate' was itself a variant spelling of 'sade', meaning 'make weary (of)'; and that it only acquired its familiar meaning of 'satisfy' through being incorrectly associated with 'satiate.' Thus does language change, and maybe now we can indeed 'sate a thirst'...

    As to the actual meaning... Again according to my dictionary, historically and etymologically 'sate' has meant more like 'satisfy to excess' (when you are sated you're full to the point of somnolence) while 'slake' has more the meaning 'reduce in intensity'; but I'm certain that both are routinely used to mean 'satisfy' or 'satiate', so yes, your feeling that they are close in meaning is quite correct.
     
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