exact » extract

Chiefly in:   extract revenge on , extract vengeance on

Variant(s):  extract revenge upon, extract vengeance upon

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • A British teenager allegedly brought down the Internet systems of a major US port while attempting to extract revenge on a fellow IRC user, a court heard today. (The Register, Oct. 6, 2003)
  • The third-seeded Scots will try and extract revenge upon second-seeded Hiram College for a five-game loss back on Oct. 13. (College of Wooster press release, Oct. 30, 2004)
  • The win extracted revenge on the Lady Bees, who had beaten Royalton (12-5, 10-5) in December. (Brecksville Sun Courier, Feb. 10, 2005)
  • “Perhaps we misjudged their primary concern,” he said. “It wasn’t resolving their credit issue. It was extracting vengeance on the PUC.” (San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 15, 2001)
  • It is not courageous to wage war, a decision largely made by senior Bush officials who avoided serving in Vietnam, to pre-emptively attack Iraq based largely upon false intelligence and a son’s personal animus to extract vengeance on Hussein. (Missoulian, letter to the editor, Apr. 6, 2004)
  • I can certainly empathize with the desires that many people have to extract vengeance on Iraqis for the atrocities we have witnessed against Americans. (Johnson Co. Daily Journal, letter to the editor, May 27, 2004)

There is not much of a semantic leap from the relatively rare verb _exact_ (‘to call for forcibly or urgently and obtain’) to the more common _extract_ (‘to obtain by much effort from someone unwilling’). But a construction like _extract revenge/vengeance (up)on_ is clearly an eggcorn, since it could only be based on the idiom _exact revenge/vengeance (up)on_. We would normally expect _extract_ to take the preposition _from_, rather than _(up)on_ (typical of _exact_ and a few other similar verbs such as _inflict_ and _wreak_).

(See also exact » enact.)

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/02/19 |

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