Amnesty is Already a Verb

By Maeve Maddox

A reader questions a word she heard spoken by a Fox News announcer:

[The announcer used] the non-word “amnetize” to mean “granting amnesty to.” Just to make sure that it is not a real word, I looked it up as “amnetize” and “amnitize.” How can we stop this grammatical ugliness before it spreads?

There’s no entry for amnetize in either the Oxford English Dictionary or in Merriam-Webster. I checked the Ngram Viewer as well: no sign of it there.

According to OED and M-W, the verb that means “grant amnesty to” has the same form as the noun:

OED
amnesty (verb): To give amnesty to, to admit to amnesty; to proclaim the overlooking of the past offences of (rebels).

M-W
amnesty (transitive verb): to grant amnesty to

A Google search for the verb amnetize–with and without quotation marks–garnered only about 300 hits. The two contexts in which I found the verb form amnetize were in discussions of sports contracts and in posts critical of US immigration policy:

What is the rush to amnetize Scola? To make room for Howard?

That’ll be the subject of a third amnesty in a few years unless the bureaucrats amnetize-as-they-go.

There isn’t an Illegal Alien he won’t Amnetize!  

the obama minions will soon amnetize 40+ million new voters…

I’m sitting down to type an argument that says the Spurs shouldn’t and won’t amnetize Richard Jefferson this season.

One writer questions the validity of the word even while using it; another encloses it in quotation marks to indicate that the word is being used in a nonstandard way:

Obama and the democrats want badly to amnetize (is that a word?) all 12-20 million illegals.

With the vast majority of ‘amnetized’ illegals voting Democrat, they will take the next presidential election.

The kind of amnesty meant in the context of sports refers to “amnesty clauses” in contracts between players and franchises:

The Amnesty Clause is a clause negotiated into the newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners which allows a team to release one player from their roster and be free of any financial obligations to that player. This was added to allow teams to clear salary cap space in preparation for new salary cap rules.  A player who is released under this program is said to be “amnestied.” –Sporting Charts Dictionary

Note that this official definition uses the verb form amnestied and not amnetized.

Bottom line: The standard verb that goes with the noun amnesty is amnesty, not “amnetize.”

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5 Responses to “Amnesty is Already a Verb”

  • Bill Pesn

    Sigh… No wonder the rest of the world calls us “Duhmericans”.
    When it comes to our mauling of the English language, the epithet often seems fully justified.

  • thebluebird11

    ewww…that is one ugly word. If I hadn’t seen it used in a sentence, I would not have even recognized it.

  • S Churchill PhD

    The correct word may be ‘amnestize’, not ‘amnetize’. The word is widely in use – “google it”.

  • Maeve

    S Churchill PhD:
    “Amnestize” may be out there in the Googlesphere, but it’s no more standard than “amnetize.” At present, anyway.

  • venqax

    Amnetize? Are you kidding? As pointed out, amnesty IS a verb already, so there is no “correct” word anywhere on the same continent as amnetize and no need to create one.

    “There isn’t an Illegal Alien he won’t Amnesty!”
    “the obama minions will soon amnesty 40+ million new voters…”

    There. Fixed. If the word is widely used, it is used by illiterates. And they are plenty. Nucular and irregardless are widely used, too. By people who don’t talk English goodly.

    BTW the verb prophesy is similarly ignored for the frankenword prophesize, though in that case the matching noun is spelled differently.

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