Monday, February 14, 2011

Aerate Your Grievances

Aerated balloon
It’s on the black list of words I never use myself, but I've long accepted that ‘pressurise’ may mean to lobby, to put pressure and not just to put some air into your tyres, but I have never come across 'aerate' in the sense 'to express, make known, promote – to air'.

Apparently this other pneumatic word is acquiring that meaning. Here is the phrase I stumbled on in the Daily Telegraph the other day:
'They are taught to aerate their grievances in order to get political power and public money.'
I’ve asked a fellow blogger, whose instinct in these matters I always trust. His reply was ‘weird-sounding but immediately understandable’. And he found another example from a 1997 book (Music in Western Civilization, by Paul Henry Lang): ‘The church elders seized this opportunity also to aerate other 
grievances, but the affair ended with a reprimand, and Bach was
 reinstated in his position.’

While ‘aerate’ usually means ‘to introduce air into a material’, Oxford dictionary also cites ‘aerated’ as British informal for being ‘agitated, angry or overexcited’.

Perhaps this usage is a subconscious evocation of both 'irate' and 'berate'. It’s a small step from a-irate, be-irate to aerate. I wonder if we are going to see anything further down the ABC. C-irate? In-ci-ne-rate? De-aerate?

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