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?