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The verb 'to succumb': would you use the inanimate reference for a human?


My language intuition may be imperfect. Still, in cases of overpowering and disruptive or damaging forces, I would refer words such as ‘yielding’ or ‘succumbing’ to inanimate objects. A tree might succumb to drought. A dam might yield to water. The effect would be that of a dramatic narrative. http://teresapelka.hubpages.com/hub/Carpe-Linguam I have noticed uses like a person's 'succumbing to a wound/poison/cancer'. Would you consider them natural?

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Howard S. profile image86

Howard S. says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    It would be most awkward on the part of any commenters to try to win an audience saying 'he/she succumbed to the guillotine'. Obviously, they cut your head off not asking your permission. Wrong. If you don't have the head owner's permission, leave it

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Becky Katz says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    Webster definitions would allow volition: you succumb to temptation, your wife, or give up a loosing battle. Wounds, illnesses, or poisons would not have this negotiating aspect of volition - they are overpowering.

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Chris Mills (cam8510) says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    It's more often in British English. I don't feel much concerned with their ways.

Wayne Brown profile image86

Wayne Brown says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    If you care to say that when you become shot, your choice is to be shot down, fine with me, why should I question your language use. Do you choose to die - do you say, 'what the heck or hell, I just die right now, to be a nice guy' (succumb) ?

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Brian L. Powell (leroy64) says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    No, Webster does not promote the humility as to die for others' wishes. Webster does not imply resistance in the word 'succumb' itself. 'Stretcher bearers!' (would you look up the etymology?)

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Woody Marx says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    Stay inanimate over the Charlie, should you want to belong the 'most humans' ;)

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Pauladance.co.uk says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    'To succumb' can be only an act of volition. A human decides to get along, or if overpowered, couldn't be assumed willing. If you look it up with the Webster, you get the passive voice for the active, if there should be overpowering.

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Garifalia says

4 years ago
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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka) 4 years ago

    'His legs succumbed' shows the cognitive distance to the body part to fail. Legs don't have independent volition. You don't yet say you 'succumbed to a bullet/quillotine, etc. If someone robs you, it's not submissiveness if you can't defend yourself.


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