semantic drift: "disrupt"

Scot LaFaive scotlafaive at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 18 21:42:40 UTC 2008

Using "distrupt" makes it sound as if the car itself is the weapon. And what
does watering a car do to the bomb? Fries electrical circuits?


On Jan 18, 2008 3:23 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      semantic drift: "disrupt"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The D.C. police are at the moment employing a bomb-squad robot called
> "Robocop" (maybe a trademark?) to investigate a suspicious vehicle. The
> police spokesperson is describing the
>  procedure, which includes knocking out a window with a robotic arm, as
> "disrupting the vehicle."  She says too that, once it had broken its way
> inside, the robot could fire a stream of water "to further disrupt the
> vehicle."
>  I'd have said "neutralize," but "disrupt" seems to be the term of art.
>  JL
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