Category: Wordsmyth Blog
It’s not a shocker that these two adjectives are frequently confused. They differ in spelling only by a letter, and they both mean, broadly speaking, “opposed to.” Digging deeper into their etymology only reveals more similarity: the same Latin verb, versare, meaning “to turn,” is at the root of both.
To keep the memorizing simple, here’s a tip:
The word “averse” always applies to a person. It describes a person’s feeling or attitude of being against or opposed to something. Examples: She was averse to violent movies. Are you averse to attending this costume party?
The word “adverse” applies to outside forces and conditions that affect people, usually in a way opposed to or harmful to people’s needs or interests. Examples: A blizzard creates adverse driving conditions. This study concludes that violent movies have an adverse effect on children.
You’ll notice, too, that “averse” is almost always used with the preposition “to.” Examples: I am not averse to change; it just takes me a while to adjust to new things.
By contrast, “adverse” usually precedes a noun that it modifies: adverse side-effects, adverse winds
Get this distinction down, and then learn the more precise meanings of these two words by looking up the dictionary entries. And, finally, if you are familiar with “aversion” and “adversity,” which are the nouns formed from “averse” and “adverse,” knowing this quartet of words will strengthen your command of all of them.
P.S. If you come up with a mnemonic device based on the extra “d” in “adverse,” let us know.
Wordsmyth offers a free school subscription for 2013-14 school year
Wordsmyth loves teachers. Teachers make up a significant portion of our user base, and developing literacy and vocabulary tools and resources that serve the needs of classrooms motivates much of what Wordsmyth is planning for the future.
Earlier this year, we introduced a paid subscription option for individual users who want the benefit of premium features. A paid educational group subscription is in the pipeline, but to allow teachers and their students to try the premium subscription features, we are offering a free educational group subscription for the 2013-14 school year. Members of a subscribed school will have access to an ad-free site with a dedicated school URL, and other premium features such as unlimited saving and sharing of activities, use of up to 50 words in activities, Spanish support, and more.
In addition, subscribed schools will also have free use of new content and tools that will become available in the next few months: the extensive Wordsmyth Word Parts (roots and affixes) reference integrated with dictionary entries, and powerful search filters that allow users to perform focused dictionary searches to more easily generate subsets of the dictionary for specific purposes.
Enrollment in the free educational group subscription is a quick, easy process. Send us a request right now, or view a list of subscription features here.
There is also a FAQ about how the free school subscription works.
aed vərs [or] əd vərs
1. opposed to or conflicting with one’s purposes or desires.
example: The adverse vote on the director’s proposal was unexpected.
example: The captain was used to sailing under adverse conditions.
2. producing harmful effects.
example: The patient had an adverse reaction to the medication.
3. moving in an opposite direction.
Neologisms: what makes a new word sticky?
What does it take to invent a word that takes root in the American English language–at least for a while? Ralph Keyes suggests that necessity (new things demand new names) and, on the part of the coiner, not trying too hard, have often been a successful recipe. Read Keyes’ tour of American neologisms here: Is There a Word for That? in The American Scholar.
Meet the “Dame of Dictionaries.”
“I read and read and read and read and read,” she says. In fifth grade, her parents gave her a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and that changed everything. “It unlocked the world for me because I could read at any vocabulary level I wanted,” she says, and went on to negotiate more sophisticated titles, like Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin, Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and The Frogs by Aristophanes. She was diligent about learning words, and would enter all the new ones she came across daily in a notebook. Then she would review them, trying to commit them to memory. The next day, she would add ten or fifteen more, review the words from the prior day, and at the end of each week review the entire week. She carried on this routine for years.”
Her West Village loft is home to 20,000 dictionaries, collected over a lifetime. She is the “Dame of Dictionaries,” Madeline Kripke. Daniel Krieger’s fine article about Kripke is peppered with links to dictionary lore. Read it here.