Why I Hate the Misuse of the Word “Impact”

Since I’m able to abuse prepositions in three languages, I usually refrain from going all grammar Nazi. But I’ve finally had it with the misuse of the word impact. We’ll get to the precipitating incident shortly, but first, the general argument. Impact is appropriate when describing the collision of two or more objects. For instance:

“After hearing a fucking moron misuse the word impact, the Mad Biologist’s fist impacted the side of said moron’s head.”

However, impact has become a ‘I have a Big Swinging Cock’ word (figuratively speaking). It’s supposed to be more emphatic than either affected or effect (which are kinda…French. Or something). But what pushed me over the edge was this sentence, in which impact is correct, at least technically, but highly inappropriate. The word was used, however, to describe those who have been affected (boldface mine):

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is being briefed about the situation [a multiple shooting at a college] by law enforcement personnel, Perry spokesman Josh Havens said.

“(Perry’s) thoughts and prayers are with those that have been impacted,” Havens said. “We have nothing more to add at this point, but the governor will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

This is technically correct: people have suffered impacts. By bullets. So, in this case, affected would be better–and if we’re still attempting to be inappropriate, perforated would work too.

Affected and effect: they are perfectly good words. Use ’em.

An aside: Really old schoolers wouldn’t use impact as a verb in any situation, but the continual transformation of all nouns into verbs a separate rant.

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1 Response to Why I Hate the Misuse of the Word “Impact”

  1. kaleberg says:

    It’s sort of like hanged. People are hanged. Wisdom teeth are impacted.

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