Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Commit

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Commit

Article excerpt

My husband struck out with his stick at an advertisement in the street that said: 'Commit to winter.' He doesn't need a stick to walk with, but he likes threatening to cudgel Christmas shoppers out of his way in this joyful season.

I agree with his disapproval of commit used intransitively, not committing oneself or committing anything else . Yet stranger things have happened to the word in the past 600 years. It used to have a rival form commise , also meaning 'entrust, perpetrate or commission', which ran out of steam in the 17th century. We do still have commis chefs, but that was re-introduced in the 20th century from French, as indicated by its silent s.

The committing that we women are said to find so hard to extract from men has popped up in the past 30 years. 'It can be "crazy-making" to love or care about someone who's afraid to commit,' wrote Melody Beattie in 1989 in one of her books on codependent relationships. She's against codependency. And, as she reminds us in Playing It by Heart: Taking Care of Yourself No Matter What , she was, at the Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, 'the youngest person ever to be allowed to work on the school newspaper'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.