Daily Archives: February 15, 2009

eviscerate

A word with echoes of vicious and a sound of slicing across the middle. The taste of evil in front helps set the tone; there is a suggestion of vice in the core, and there may even be a hint of rape at the end. Ask your ears: is the instrument used for the action serrated? The v looks like a knife edge… or its results. Ask your eyes: are its results viscous? They could be, a little, literally, given that the e is Latin “out” (remember e pluribus unum?) and viscera are guts. But this word is not so often used literally these days. More often it’s talking about the effects of some legislation, or effects on some legislation, or an author’s complaint about an edit, or a lambasting that might be better called excoriation than evisceration, or some act that would be better termed eradicate or undermine or emasculate or enervate or hamstring or decimate or… One worries that too-broad usage might etiolate this word’s sense. Which is not to say eviscerate it.