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usage of "to agonize" Options
robjen
Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:52:27 PM
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The online dictionary, www.freedictionary.com, gives two definitions of the verb, to agonize.

(A) To suffer mental anguish or worry about something
(B) To suffer extreme pain

I am going to make up two similar sentences with it.

(1) John agonized to see his uncle suffering.

(2) John agonized over seeing his uncle suffering.


I am not sure which one is grammatically correct? Please help me. Thanks a lot.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 5:12:11 PM

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I would like to know which dictionary tfd got those from. Maybe in AmE they mean that.

But in BE, if you are in extreme pain, you are in agony.

If you agonise over something, you suffer real anguish making a decision.

Cambridge dictionaryf
Quote:
If you agonize over/about something, you spend time worrying and trying to make a decision about it:
She agonized for days about whether she should take the job.


Oxford dictionary:
Quote:
VERB

1Undergo great mental anguish through worrying about something.


They do have a definition to suffer pain as well, but it still has a mental or metaphorical component.

I can't think of a situation where I have ever heard 'agonise' as an active verb meaning simply to suffer pain. It is always mental suffering over a decision, in my experience.
NKM
Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 6:09:33 PM

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I agree with Thar.

In American English we may agonize over a decision, or perhaps over a difficult problem or situation, but we don't just plain "agonize".

Romany
Posted: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 1:34:19 PM
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Words like these take the place of fossils, linguistically, don't you think? Why don't we agonise? Is there a gap in the linguistic chain where a word should be?

And why are we never "kempt", either?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 2:37:45 PM

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It is funny that it means extreme pain in English, because it didn't start that way at all

Ancient Greek
Quote:

ἀγωνίᾱ • (agōníā) f (genitive ἀγωνίᾱς); first declension

1 contest, struggle for victory .....(cf agin, against?)
2 gymnastic exercise
3 (of the mind) agony, anguish


I must admit I thought it would be a-something - 'not'.

You are right - it is an interesting linguistic gap.

You hurt, you ache, but those are minor. When it comes to the severe end, maybe it is not something you do. But it is not something done to you, either - it is a state you are in - powerless, stuck, and maybe even without a sense of time? -
You are in pain, in agony, or mentally in torment.

It does feel like it, when you are in any serious pain, doesn't it - that it is the place you are in, and nothing else exists?
Maybe that is the reason for the gap. Think
(Or maybe it is just not 'English' to express it. The play-it-down 'English' version would be 'it's a bit tender... Whistle )

And you can certainly be kempt if you so wish, if kempt is combed. Uncombed is the cleaned-up alternative of unkempt, while unkempt has broadened its meaning! (Icelandic 'kemba' - to comb.) I guess you can have two words for the negative, since there is more reason to comment on when people are looking messy Whistle


Icelandic
Quote:
kemb/a v (acc) ( -di, -t)
comb
~~ hærurnar grow old


English
Quote:

kemb (third-person singular simple present kembs, present participle kembing, simple past and past participle kembed or kempt)
Obsolete form of comb.



That makes me permanently unkempt, which is a reasonable description. Whistle
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 6:35:44 PM

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I may be unkempt, but I try to avoid being uncouth.

Romany
Posted: Thursday, November 02, 2017 1:12:00 PM
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Commendable. To what influences do you attribute your general couth?Whistle
NKM
Posted: Thursday, November 02, 2017 10:50:32 PM

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It's because of my unyouth.

palapaguy
Posted: Thursday, November 02, 2017 11:06:20 PM

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NKM wrote:
It's because of my unyouth.

Good for you! It's best avoided whenever possible. Applause
Romany
Posted: Friday, November 03, 2017 7:30:46 PM
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Ah-hah - I get you, NK; so one's couthness is in inverse proportion to one's youthness, you think?
NKM
Posted: Saturday, November 04, 2017 3:37:02 PM

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Yousually …!

Romany
Posted: Saturday, November 04, 2017 4:11:04 PM
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NK - game, set and match!
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