Let’s Not Eviscerate “Eviscerate”

By Maeve Maddox

I’ve always thought of the verb eviscerate as being a really strong word suggestive of horror. Say it aloud. Even the word’s sound seems to twist like a knife blade.

eviscerate – [ee VIS er ate] intransitive verb – To take out the internal organs or entrails of; to disembowel; to gut.

Used correctly, eviscerate conveys the idea of removing an animal’s innards. For example the Canadian Department of Agriculture has a “live, dressed, and eviscerated poultry regulation.” A National Institute of Sciences report tells us:

Experiments were carried out in eviscerated rats having intact kidneys to examine the effects on body glucose of some conditions known to stimulate overall gluconeogenesis.

Pretty horrible stuff, evisceration.

That’s why I’m sorry to observe that some bloggers and headline writers are using the word as if it were a mere synonym for destroy or impugn (contradict, contravene, cross, disaffirm, gainsay, negate).

Armenian Genocide deniers are eviscerated
Zionofascist Bollinger Eviscerated by Patriot
Keith Olbermann eviscerated Hillary Clinton

Such figurative use of the word eviscerate is like calling in a helicopter to get a cat out of a tree.

On the other hand, figurative uses of eviscerate can be appropriate:

AT&T, Microsoft win as ID theft bill eviscerated

This use is apt because the document contained things that could be cut out.

Sometimes the use of the word is completely off the mark, literally or figuratively, as in a 2002 story by an NPR reporter who called Windows on the World “a restaurant in one of the eviscerated towers of the World Trade Center.”

Had the tower housing the restaurant still been standing as a shell, the use would have been appropriate. Since the tower was rubble, it was not “eviscerated.” It was demolished.

Sure, evisceration does result in the death of the organism to which it is applied, but with so many other more suitable words in the language for attacking people’s ideas, why weaken a bloody, snicker-snak word like eviscerate?

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3 Responses to “Let’s Not Eviscerate “Eviscerate””

  • Melissa Donovan

    I first heard of the word “eviscerate” while listening to an R.E.M. song called “You Are the Everything.” The line was:

    “Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sing. I’m very scared for this world. I’m very scared for me. Eviscerate your memory.”

    It’s a beautiful song.

    Another word frequently misused on the web is “notorious.” Apparently people don’t realize the negative connotations it implies.

  • Tom Paine

    Have just started a blog and I’m looking around for writing guidance. Love to write.
    And I’ve seen infamous missused in a sense similar to Melissa’s observance regarding notorious. This is a great site and I’ll be revisiting. Just what I’ve been looking for.
    I’m responding here because I recently used gutted.
    I have time on my hands and should be golfing but I thought I’d share the following. No, eviscerate wouldn’t quite work. Hillary might eviscerate in CA or NY but not PA. One guts in PA. Thanks for a good resource.

    BLOODED AND READY TO TAKE CHARGE
    God what a wonderful feeling shooting a sweet free bird from a blue sky. She grabbed another still bird from the dog and quickly broke its neck and gutted it throwing warm slop into brackish water. Love the kick of the gun, love the blood and guts. God it’s good!

    After, some whiskey with the rest of the locals from the local DOR (Daughters of Rest), that wonderful group of registered retired older women who too challenged the status quo and realized killing sweet free birds some of whom might be mothers too wasn’t a wanton act-it was a meaningful empowering one. So they killed sweet free birds, drank whiskey, and celebrated knowing that one of them might some day be the big gun in a big city.

    The next morning she went to KFC and ate chicken meat with her hands and wiped her mouth on her shoulder and didn’t care if the dopey bird might have been undercooked.

    Bosnia, the ducks; yes she was tested and ready. “Bring it on.”

    (“Bring it on” copyright DUBYA, INC.)

  • Maeve

    Just discovered that I misspelled “snicker-snack” in this article.
    Apologies to Lewis Carroll.

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