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From bad to worse

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (1 of 9), Read 99 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Thursday, October 14, 1999 09:01 AM

F. James, of Seattle, Wash., writes: "There is a real need for a word that would be the opposite of 'improve': 'Doing X will improve the situation, but doing Y will -- what? -- it.' Please don't say 'worsen.' Nobody actually uses 'worsen' in a sentence like that."

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (2 of 9), Read 90 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Thursday, October 14, 1999 11:32 AM

impair might be the closest antonym for this sense, but Roget poses several interesting options -- I won't bugger up this reply by repeating them all, but did you know that snafu is considered to be a verb?

today's wwftd is...

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (3 of 9), Read 84 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Charles Elster (chelster@juno.com)
Date: Thursday, October 14, 1999 04:05 PM

"Deteriorate," though usually used intransitively, is also acceptably used transitively. The OED gives citations dating from 1572, the last from Matthew Arnold: "Equality . . . had not deteriorated but improved them."

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (4 of 9), Read 73 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Amalie Aseltine (hotamalie@hotmail.com)
Date: Saturday, October 16, 1999 04:46 PM

Does not "exacerbate" suit the exact context for BAD TO WORSE? Better than I had first thought, when I looked it up in terms of making a bad situation even worse--once I looked it up!

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (5 of 9), Read 73 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Saturday, October 16, 1999 06:51 PM

I agree with exacerbate -- I hadn't even registered the "from bad to worse" topic and had been thinking the situation could be starting from a neutral position, in which case exacerbate wouldn't work.

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (6 of 9), Read 60 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Birgit Houston (dbrhkraken@aol.com)
Date: Saturday, October 23, 1999 02:15 PM

To be honest, I usually just use worsen. Excerbate is another, but I feel it implies the situation is pretty darned bad to start with. Erode could be used in certain circumstances, also.

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (7 of 9), Read 37 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: J. a. Mashaw (juliemashaw@hotmail.com)
Date: Thursday, October 28, 1999 05:38 PM

How about degenerate? Or erode perhaps?

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (8 of 9), Read 36 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: William Richards (richards@sfu.ca)
Date: Saturday, October 30, 1999 12:12 PM

How about degrade?

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Topic: 2) From bad to worse (9 of 9), Read 10 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Matt Swift (swift@alum.mit.edu)
Date: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 05:22 PM

On 10/14/99 9:01:55 AM, Barbara Wallraff wrote:
>F. James, of Seattle, Wash.,
>writes: "There is a real need
>for a word that would be the
>opposite of 'improve': 'Doing
>X will improve the situation,
>but doing Y will -- what? --
>it.' Please don't say
>'worsen.' Nobody actually uses
>'worsen' in a sentence like
>that."

`Don't worsen the situation' and `You wouldn't want to worsen the situation' both sound familiar and acceptable to me.

But `disimprove' is right under your nose, and, according to the OED, exactly what you want:

To do the reverse of improving; to render worse in quality.



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