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Chris -- 2011-03-08

#1 2012-12-27 05:15:54

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2211

deability/deabilitating << debility/debilitating

“Debility,” a lack of health or vigor, is not a lexical packaging for the term “able/ability.” Our word “able” traces back to the Latin habilis, which is a presumed transformation of habere, the Latin Jack-of-all-words for “have.” “Debility,” in contrast, recognizes the Latin debilis, weak, as an ancestor.

The similarity, however, between “debility” and “disability” has encouraged English speakers to find an “able” in “debility,” turning it into “deability:”

Post on a medical site: “Sexual deability and loss of erection is another symptom of diabetes.”

Technical troubleshooting forum: “Good point I suspect much of the deability of having PHP on the client,is it seems almost cruel and unusual punishment to have to discover how can i use a screwdriver, after having spent valuable time learning all about a hammer.”

Question on same forum: “The user has stated constraints that he is under (or presumes himself to be under). It is worthless to talk about the deability, or lack thereof, of things he can’t use or is forced to use.”

Obituary: “AARON MARTIN, age 84, of Vermilion, IL, died Friday of general deability. His funeral was held Sunday.”

East Indian health site claim: “useful in weak limbs & general deability

The increasing popularity of the suffix-extended “debilitate,” especially in its participial form “debilitating,” also catches the “able” flu:

UK Amazon review: “Plus, one of the greatest villains of all time, Sauron, does not display likeable human emotions at all, yet you can empathise with his fear of death, his craving for power and the deabilitating power of addiction ”

Fan fiction: “Can you not see that we need to deabilitate the turtles the middle two can not fight ”

Game forum: “ Do poisons literally just weaken and deabilitate enemies or outright kill them?”

Blog entry: “I would love to agree that it’s better to not remember anything than remember everything that could potentially turn your life upside down and deabilitate you”



#2 2012-12-27 17:48:26

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1251

Re: deability/deabilitating << debility/debilitating

Huh? Ability is not related to debility? Now that is incredible. Deabilitate looks almost like an alternative spelling to me. How about some kind of Roman eggcorn? So hability lost its h in English and started to look like an assimilated ad-. Amazing.



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