Razed to the Ground
The englishmonarchs.co.uk web site reports that many monasteries were “raised to the ground” by Viking raiders during the reign of King Ethelred I.
But how can a monastery be “raised to the ground”?
Although commonly seen on the web, the phrase “raised to the ground” is almost always a misspelling of “razed to the ground”.
Whilst it is possible for something to be “raised” to the ground, it would, logically, have to be below the surface beforehand. Miners could raise ore to the ground. But when talking about a building or a city the phrase should be “razed to the ground”.
Raze – which sounds the same as raise but is a completely distinct word – is defined by the Compact Oxford Dictionary as follows :
raze (also rase)
• verb, tear down and destroy (a building, town, etc.).
— ORIGIN Old French raser ‘shave closely’, from Latin radere ‘scrape’.
The more familiar “raise”, however, is from a completely different root :
• verb, lift or move to a higher position or level etc.
— ORIGIN Old Norse, related to REAR.
As an aside, “raise” can also be a noun, meaning an increase in salary, although this is standard only in US English. In UK English this would be called a “rise”.
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