vouchsafe or vouch?

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gambheyhey

Senior Member
Chinese
No matter how closely I controlled her leisure, there would constantly occur unaccounted-for time leaks with over-elaborate explanations to stop them up in retrospect; of course, my jealousy would constantly catch its jagged claw in the fine fabrics of nymphet falsity; but I did definitely feel--and can now vouchsafe for the accuracy of my feeling--that there was no reason for serious alarm. I felt that way not because I never once discovered any palpable hard young throat to crush among the masculine mutes that flickered somewhere in the background; but because XXXXX.

What's above is an excerpt lifted from Nabokov's Lolita. I doubt that the word vouchsafe is used wrongly here and should be replaced by vouch. According to my dictionary, vouchsafe has only one meaning: "To condescend to grant or bestow (a privilege, for example); deign", which doesn't fit in here. But I am not so sure, because the writer is famous for puns and creative use of words in general. (I know he's not a native English speaker, but he surely has a better command of the language than most natives.)

Had it proved to be wrong, then it would be interesting to see that a lot of people make the same mistake. Just google "vouchsafe for" and you'll see they confuse it with "vouch for". Are these two words interchangeable or is it just one of the many easily made word mistakes? Thanks.
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It seems wrong to me, now that I have looked at the definitions, but as vouchsafe is not in my active vocabulary my view is not reliable.
     

    pickarooney

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I doubt that the word vouchsafe is used wrongly here and should be replaced by vouch.
    You're saying that you do not think it is used wrongly (in other words it is used correctly) but the rest of your post seems to suggest you do think it's used wrongly.

    On the few occasions I've used vouchsafe it has never been with 'for'. I'd feel a little uneasy contradicting Nabokov, but perhaps it was an intentional misuse of the word by the narrator's character.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I'l stick my neck out.

    It's just plain wrong - or in a more conciliatory tone - it's a non-standard usage.
     

    gambheyhey

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    You're saying that you do not think it is used wrongly (in other words it is used correctly) but the rest of your post seems to suggest you do think it's used wrongly.

    On the few occasions I've used vouchsafe it has never been with 'for'. I'd feel a little uneasy contradicting Nabokov, but perhaps it was an intentional misuse of the word by the narrator's character.
    Thanks for correction.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Having not tried Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar ourselves, we can’t vouchsafe Wells’ scathing review, but something strikes us as a bit overcooked.

    Source: Guy Fieri’s Not the First: Restaurant Critic Pete Wells’ Most Scathing Reviews

    This is taken from a piece about Guy Fieri's newly launched restaurant being slammed to the ground in a NYTimes food review by Pete Wells. The piece shows that the food critic has a track record of fileting chefs.

    Does vouchsafe sound unnatural to you in this case? Does it have any currency today?
     
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