Impacted Versus Affected

I cringe when I read that a group of people may be ‘impacted’ by a hurricane or politics, or for that matter, that anyone may be impacted. I know that a wisdom tooth may become impacted, but my OED says nothing about people being ‘impacted’.

Does anyone know when ‘impacted’ gained favor over ‘affected’? Or why?

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  1. Ha! Thank you for posting this. I noticed this a long, long time ago.

    I think ‘impact’ can be correctly used as a verb, it’s just been in the last 10 years or so that people have been doing it.

    Another few usage things I’ve noticed:
    - pronouncing the word ‘harass’ in the British way, with the the emphasis on the first syllable;
    - everyone being called Mr. ________ no matter how many times their name is repeated.

  2. DG

    Hello Todd,

    Just seems to me that it’s one of those ‘political’ words. Bigger ‘impact’ if you will. Sounds much worse than ‘affected’. Much like a virus used to be called an epidemic, but now, ‘pandemic’ gets the juice. ;)

  3. 1. While impact, the verb, is more commonly used for physical collisions than affect is, impact, the noun, is used more broadly to describe something that profoundly affects many people. On the other hand, the noun “affect” encompasses more touchy-feely and wishy-washy connotations. Modern media’s love affair with verbing nouns makes them reach for the noun with more punch.

    2. Fewer and fewer people have mastered the difference between affect and effect, so they use the plural mongoose dodge: “send me a mongoose, and while you’re at it, send me another.”

  4. It’s a new word ;) You know what these business types are like. Describing the same concept over and over again is mind-numbingly dull, so using more punchy words incorrectly is rewarded. Heaven forbid anyone choose to use the passive voice once in a while and say “had an impact upon” – nobody can concentrate through four words!

  5. I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this problem plus it really does present me personally a lot of fodder for thought. Nonetheless, from everything that I have observed, I only trust when the opinions pile on that folks continue to be on point and in no way get started on a soap box regarding the news of the day. All the same, thank you for this outstanding point and even though I do not concur with this in totality, I value the perspective.




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