Prepositions with Enamored

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A reader is troubled by the use of enamored by instead of enamored of. (British enamoured).

It may be because I read a lot of British literature, but the only usage with enamored that sounds “right” to me is “enamored of,” as in Titania’s remark when waking from the spell in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Me thought I was enamoured of an Asse.”

However, another preposition is acceptable with enamored, but it’s not by; it’s with. Merriam-Webster gives these examples:

tourists were enamored of the town
a beautiful Indian girl with whom he was enamored–Walter Havighurst

The verb enamor may be used transitively, as in “Rosamond Vincy enamored Dr. Lydgate.” That means that she affected him in such a way as to make him fall in love with her. More usually, enamor is cast in the passive: “Dr. Lydgate was enamored of Rosamond Vincy.” Here, the meaning is that he was inflamed with love for her.

Paul Brians, an English professor at Washington State University offers this helpful mnemonic:

If you’re crazy about ferrets, you’re enamored of them. It is less common but still acceptable to say “enamored with”; but if you say you are enamored by ferrets, you’re saying that ferrets are crazy about you.

I’ll offer my own view as to how one might choose between of and with to use with this verb:

Use “enamored of” when speaking of romantic love: “Marc Antony was enamored of Cleopatra.”

Use “enamored with” when speaking of mere fascination or interest: “Charlie is enamored with his new iPad.”

As for “enamored by,” remember the ferrets.

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8 thoughts on “Prepositions with Enamored”

  1. O.K., Maeve, so far, so good…

    Now, how about these: enamored over, enamored concerning,
    enamored through, enamored into?
    For example: “George is enamored over the Special Theory of Relativity.”
    “Georgette was enamored though the power of Merlin’s black magic.”

  2. Maeve: Wouldn’t it be easier AND better to just use *of* in all cases? “Charlie was enamored of his new iPad?” It is hard to see the need for enamored with in any case. Brian’s point illustrates a similiarity between the improper deployment of nauseous (causing nausea) and nauseated.

    DAW: No. Enamored OF. The end.

  3. Venqax,
    Yes, it would be better to use “of” with “enamored,” period. One of DAW’s examples with Merlin as an agent in the enamoring of someone is probably arguable, but not a situation most people would have occasion to talk about.

  4. I believe that Maeve’s usage of the preposition “with” is a very good one:
    Use “enamored with” when speaking of mere fascination or interest:
    “Charlie is enamored with his new iPad.”
    “Albert was enamored with the Special Theory of Relativity.”
    “Franklin was enamored with the prospects of the United Nations.”
    Also mine:
    Von Braun was enamored concerning the prospect of sending a rocket to the Moon.
    Crick and Watson were enamored concerning the structure of the DNA molecule.
    As for my example sentence concerning Merlin and black magic, the subject of that sentence was not meant to be taken seriously. The grammar was the important issue.
    I came up with that sentence simply becasue I was enamored with the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I just figured that putting Guinevere in the sentence would be confusing because so few people know who she was.

    I loved reading about the Knights of the Round Table back before I found out about the joys of science fiction.

  5. Of is still preferable and works in all those cases.

    “Charlie is enamored of his new iPad.”
    “Albert was enamored of the Special Theory of Relativity.”
    “Franklin was enamored of the prospects of the United Nations.”

    No meaning is lost and the uncontroversial preposition is preserved.

  6. There seems to be a small point of conflict in this article: the transitive usage of ‘enamor’ implies that ‘X was enamored by Y’ has the same meaning as ‘Y enamored X’, which would appear to result in a state where ‘X is enamored of Y’ is true (although this would of course be a superset of the former phrases). Am I missing something here?


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