This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Nuts and Bolts: intensifiers

Intensifiers are words like extremely, or hugely, that make a statement stronger.

They're very over-used, but still interesting.

Aren't they?

Actually, intensifiers are interesting. For one thing, the most commonly used intensifier, very, often makes a statement weaker instead of stronger. For an example you only have to look at the second sentence of this post.

For another thing, if someone uses lots of intensifiers - fabulously, genuinely, wonderfully - then he or she is more likely to be lying than if they're left out.*

Some of the commonest intensifiers are swearwords, of course: there's ******* and ******, and not to forget *******, as well.

There are other ways of using an intensive. Adding ard to the end of an English word will do it, as in drunkard or dullard.

The Romans could either put per on the front of a word or, rather charmingly, they could put e on the front of a word, which made the word mean with an effort. Ructa means burp, and eructa means...well, a burp with an effort behind it.

Terrific fun!

Word To Use Today: an intensifier. The word intensifier comes from the Latin word intensus, which means stretched.

*Or so some scientists claim to have proved.

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