June 04, 2012
plague (verb)
\PLAYG\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : to afflict with or as if with disease or evil2 : to cause worry or distress to
How do you use it?
"I do hope your conscience plagues you because you may have ruined things for many others. I do not know if I shall ever be able to help another child in need." (Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy)
Are you a word wiz?

The verb "plague" comes from the earlier noun "plague," meaning "a disastrous evil," "an epidemic disease," or "a nuisance." Which of these root words do you think is the source of "plague"?

Don't be plagued by worry: the answer is D. When "plague" was first used in English in the 1300s, it could refer to a simple stroke or wound. Or it could mean not just any strike or blow, but a huge one, a calamity. It was the calamity sense that stayed with us. As history wore on, "plague" came to be associated with swarms of insects and epidemic diseases. But it also softened to refer to nothing more than a nuisance. The verb "plague" took on the same calamitous meanings as the noun, but it too softened in time. It is now used commonly to mean simply "to distress."
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