Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Abort


Merriam-Webster says:
I am deliberately skipping directly to this definition: a: to terminate prematurely: cancel. b: to stop in the early stages.

I'm old enough to remember when that was how it was most often used, too.

Abort wasn't a common word before it got attached to a certain medical procedure, and it's now been pretty much completely overshadowed by the controversy attached to its other meaning. So I'm going to call this at least a ten cent word due to rarity and difficulty. What do you think? 

More specific than:
Stop. Cancel is similar, but more passive. Halt refers specifically to moving things, in my mind.

Word relationships:
This word used to be fairly clinical and formal, but had a certain harshness maybe because it was used in military or other action-y situations: Abort the missile launch! I wonder if it hasn't picked up a tinge of violence from all the controversy in its vicinity. Nowadays you hear a less formal term like scrap or a less active one like cancel. Scuttle also seems to be generalizing to take the place of abort -- scuttle really refers to deliberately sinking ships, but it's a similar concept to abort.

What comes to your mind? Post a sentence using it? (without mentioning the medical procedure, pregnancy, etc.)

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