adverse » averse

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • “But extremely averse circumstances are rare.'’ While Kagan concedes that severe neglect can have grave developmental consequences,…” (link)
  • “… at the age of 15 due to boredom and strong averse reaction to preppy private school. Had similar strong averse reaction to working in Corporate America.” (link)
  • “… recommend appropriate measures to avoid averse consequences for the enjoyment of human rights in the imposition and maintenance of economic sanctions.” (link)

The reverse of “averse” >> “adverse”, and apparently rarer than it; see that entry for discussion. Fiske’s Dictionary of Disagreeable English, however, treats this direction of substitution as the more common one, citing examples of “averse effects”, “averse reactions”, and “averse weather”. Google searches do not bear out Fiske’s assessment of relative frequency. Still, it’s not hard to find hundreds of examples.

The question is whether this is mere word confusion — perhaps encouraged by advice to avoid the substitution “averse” >> “adverse”! — or an actual eggcorn. As far as I can tell, this comes down to the question of whether some people see a connection between “averse” and “aversion” and import “averse” into contexts like ” — circumstances” and ” — weather” so as to highlight the unwelcome nature of the circumstances, weather, etc. I’m not at all sure that this has happened, and so have marked this entry as questionable.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/09/15 |

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