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7 Comments

  • The use of impact as a verb(either transitive or intransitive), hasn’t impacted me very much, although, as an editor, I always tried to impact my reporters with a desire to avoid bureaucratise in all its manifest forms. I did this by taking their input, revising the throughput and approving the output before I put it on the page to assess its impact. Long story short, to err hypersensitively on the use of jargon(even when the word in question is old, accepted, and not perceived as such by the lexicographic community), is probably better than the alternative; what I don’t know is, what impact my opinion will effect on such an impactful subject.

  • I find it interesting that I have varying levels of acceptance for different forms of the word. Impact as a noun, as in “have an impact”, sounds pretty much fine to me. But as a verb, as in “impact a child”, sounds awful, and “impacted” as a participial adjective has some unfortunate medical connotations, as I wrote about here a few years back.

  • Marc: You certainly seem at ease with impact in all its many modern guises. As far as I know (i.e., not having investigated beyond checking a few ngrams and reading a few usage notes), the censured forms of impact became popular in AmE quite a few years before BrE. So you got a head start.

    Jonathon: This is something that struck me too, and your varying degrees of acceptance largely mirror my own. Thanks for the link. I’m fine with have an impact, but impacted suggests dental woe (or worse) to me, and I steer clear of the transitive verb. It would make an interesting survey, with enough numbers.

  • Stan, I work in the voluntary sector and “making an impact” is part and parcel of our lexicon. We have to prove we are “making an impact” if we are to be successful in grant applications. I take your point from Michael Rundell that how it impacts on us can depend on the context in which we first heard it. I resist it but I don’t hate it. Your example of impacting a child – now THAT I hate. On a totally separate (but connected) matter I keep hearing newsreaders referring to places being “inundated” with rain and it irks me beyond reason. I’m trying to identify my lexical priming moment…

  • Thanks for those reflections, Helen. Like you, I resist it in my own usage but I don’t hate it. Since it’s standard and common, hating it would be an awful hassle, not to mention bad for my blood pressure. I think it makes sense to tolerate words we react against, and to be mindful of their connotations so we can avoid talking about “impacting children” with vehicles, to return to that example.