weaken/enervate

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kansi

Senior Member
japanese
As Zamfara, Kebbi and a few other states in the North have proved, banditry is at the core of the injustice and lack of economic opportunities that characterise and enervate the society. Nowhere are these contradictions so transparent than the North where elite irresponsibility and poor delivery of justice have spawned an adders’ nest of recalcitrant and bloodthirsty bands of bandits, many of which have become inured to peace and are drunk on cheap money. Zamfara under their previous governor Abdulaziz Yari began this abominable culture of negotiating peace with bandits.

Appeasing bandits was always impracticable - The Nation Nigeriaa
  • to deprive of force or strength;
  • destroy the vigor of;
  • weaken.
I understand that enervate means this above but what's the difference in meaning between enervate and weaken?

All I know is that enervate is far less common.
 
  • Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I clicked through to the link. This appears to be a Nigerian newspaper written in English. In just the first few paragraphs I noted a number of stylistic or usage things that made it clear we are dealing with another variety of English. I wouldn't say *errors* exactly but certainly constructions you would not see in an English language newspaper in Britain or North America. I just point this out in case you have other usage questions from this article or publication.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I wouldn't say *errors* exactly but certainly constructions you would not see in an English language newspaper in Britain or North America. I just point this out in case you have other usage questions from this article or publication.
    I am curious what kind of style the stylistic and usage used in this article is.

    But since I asked about that word, is that choice of word : enervate is odd in this context?
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I am curious what kind of style the stylistic and usage used in this article is.

    But since I asked about that word, is that choice of word : enervate is odd in this context?
    I don't know. Is Nigerian society being enervated by bandits? It's what I think of as "opinion piece" language.

    As far as the stylistic choices and borderline usage errors, I've never taken a look at an African English language newspaper before. But I m going to assume that I'm seeing typical usages for that part of Africa.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I don't know. Is Nigerian society being enervated by bandits? It's what I think of as "opinion piece" language.
    You mean, ( I am using weaken here) you don't know if bandits are enough to be able to weaken Nigerian society?
    (If it's enough, is the use of enervate there fine or would you native English speakers use it there?
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    You mean, ( I am using weaken here) you don't know if bandits are enough to be able to weaken Nigerian society?
    (If it's enough, is the use of enervate there fine or would you native English speakers use it there?
    Enervate has a slightly different meaning than weaken. I expect a good dictionary would show that difference.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Can you explain that slight difference?
    Not at the moment. In order to do that I would need to look them up in a good dictionary to be 100% sure I was right. By which I mean an English dictionary not a "learner's dictionary" or thesaurus.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Haven't you asked this before? I remember posting in another thread.

    what's the difference in meaning between enervate and weaken?
    "Enervate" is a more formal word. In my opinion it's rarely used. I don't think I've ever used it and it always makes me think of "energise", which has the opposite meaning.

    I agree there could be an additional nuance that's difficult to explain.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Not at the moment. In order to do that I would need to look them up in a good dictionary to be 100% sure I was right. By which I mean an English dictionary not a "learner's dictionary" or thesaurus.
    What name is that dictionary you would look up?
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    What name is that dictionary you would look up?
    If I can get access to the Oxford Dictionary that is always my preferred choice. However I don't know what is available online. Just Google and see what you get.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You might start with the three dictionaries that you can access by using the search box at the top of the page. o_O
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    • to deprive of force or strength;
    • destroy the vigor of;
    • weaken.
    I understand that enervate means this above but what's the difference in meaning between enervate and weaken?
    'weaken' is a general purpose, non-specific word which is less forceful and precise than 'enervate' (as 'weaken' is the weakest of the 3 definitions you quote above). If these things 'enervate' society, it means that they have deprived it of the energy which might have led to action. It might sound a bit odd if he said that bandits were enervating society, but he actually says that 'injustice and lack of economic opportunities' are enervating Nigerian society, which sounds perfectly OK to me.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    'weaken' is a general purpose, non-specific word which is less forceful and precise than 'enervate' (as 'weaken' is the weakest of the 3 definitions you quote above).
    I see..enervate is more forceful than weaken and its core meaning is weaken.
    If these things 'enervate' society, it means that they have deprived it of the energy which might have led to action.
    Is this sense of depriving something that they might have used otherwlse important to the meaning of enervate?
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I see..enervate is more forceful than weaken and its core meaning is weaken
    Let me rephrase what I said : 'enervate' suggests a more complete process than 'weaken' : the degree of lessening of 'physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power' (Merriam-Webster, 'weaken') is left indeterminate by 'weaken', and is established by the context. In a great many of its uses, 'weaken' could not be replaced by 'enervate'; 'enervate' could (often, at least) be replaced by 'weaken', but with a loss of precision.

    Is this sense of depriving something that they might have used otherwlse important to the meaning of enervate?
    The key idea is deprivation of 'energy' - 'energy' is associated with the idea of initiating action, and the state of being without energy is one from which one doesn't expect action to ensue. 'Energy' is itself difficult to define - it often combines the idea of physical and mental capacity, and the will to deploy these, and , to me, the way we use 'enervate' involves the idea of the reduction to a state of 'listlessness'. In this case, injustice and the lack of economic opportunities might be said to 'enervate' society , since people don't make an effort if they see that effort isn't rewarded, or if the opportunity to use their strengths is denied them. If you said of an English emigrant that he was soon enervated by the heat and humidity of the tropical climate it would suggest he lacked energy both physical and mental. But, as the M-W definition quoted above suggests, there are many contexts in which 'enervate' could not replace 'weaken' ,e.g. 'Old age had weakened his grip' ('enervate' would be impossible here), 'Though Felicity's anguished appeal weakened his resolution, he still...' ('enervate' would be impossible), 'Dry rot had weakened the old oak beams...' ('enervate' would be impossible), and so on.
     
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    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Let me rephrase what I said : 'enervate' suggests a more complete process than 'weaken' : the degree of lessening of 'physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power' (Merriam-Webster, 'weaken') is left indeterminate by 'weaken', and is established by the context. In a great many of its uses, 'weaken' could not be replaced by 'enervate'; 'enervate' could (often, at least) be replaced by 'weaken', but with a loss of precision.
    he was soon enervated by the heat and humidity of the tropical climate it would suggest he lacked energy both physical and mental.
    →It's possible that he can be enervated to the state he is completly deprived of his energy ( a complete process of depriving energy) so enervate is used?

    But your other example suggest that it's either phisical strength(his grip/the beam's strength) or mental strength(his resolution) that is deprived so weaken is used?
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    he was soon enervated by the heat and humidity of the tropical climate it would suggest he lacked energy both physical and mental.
    →It's possible that he can be enervated to the state he is completly deprived of his energy ( a complete process of depriving energy) so enervate is used?

    But your other example suggest that it's either phisical strength(his grip/the beam's strength) or mental strength(his resolution) that is deprived so weaken is used?
    I have always understood "enervate" to suggest a loss of mental or moral or nervous energy in addition to physical energy. You can be weakened physically but still strong in mental or moral purpose.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I have always understood "enervate" to suggest a loss of mental or moral or nervous energy in addition to physical energy. You can be weakened physically but still strong in mental or moral purpose.
    I agree. Thus, a person can be enervated, but inanimate objects cannot be. For example, it would be incorrect to say "the earthquake enervated the bridge", or "the rope was enervated by long exposure to the weather."
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    re#16, I see that in the second part I seem to have mismanaged the 'Quote' to convey the idea that Kansi is answering his own question - sorry! The question is kansi's, the answer is mine.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I agree. Thus, a person can be enervated, but inanimate objects cannot be. For example, it would be incorrect to say "the earthquake enervated the bridge", or "the rope was enervated by long exposure to the weather."
    I see. In my OP sentence, a society was enervated. A society is made of people.That's why enervate could
    be used?
     
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