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

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  1. teresapelka profile image63
    teresapelkaposted 6 years ago

    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.

    I have noticed uses like a person's 'succumbing to a wound/poison/cancer'.

    Would you consider them natural?

  2. Becky Katz profile image84
    Becky Katzposted 6 years ago

    I have seen succumb used like that and it sounds totally natural to me. Perhaps it doesn't sound natural to you because the word is not used much.  Succumbing to someone else's wishes would be another way to use it.  Synonyms are capitulate and concede. Those could not be use with inanimate objects.

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      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.

  3. profile image61 6 years ago

    I have always thought 'to succumb' means to 'yield' or 'give in completely to'
    whatever 'force' is threatening - i.e. water - drowning, poison, force of fall,
    attack by other human or animal, in fact any 'attack' by whatever and in fact 'to' whatever.  I think 'succumb can be ralated to anything/person.

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      '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.

  4. cam8510 profile image94
    cam8510posted 6 years ago

    Yes, medical journals refer to a person as succumbing to a disease.

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

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

  5. Woody Marx profile image69
    Woody Marxposted 6 years ago

    Since most humans are inanimate by nature, at least in my experience, then I certainly would use the word succumb, seeing as how they all succumb so easily to being inanimate at the drop of a hat...tell someone to sit down and relax and become inanimate and they will, 99% of the time, oblige willingly.

    I am not certain what your question means, to be truthful, but this is my best shot at an answer.

    Now I am going to go and lay down and become inanimate for the remainder of the day.  Wake me when Charlie Rose is on.  I never miss it!

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

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

  6. Wayne Brown profile image83
    Wayne Brownposted 6 years ago

    It really depends on your view of the definition of the word.  In the case of "succumb" it can be a reference used to connotate a "giving up" or "dying" of sorts but it also can be used more in terms of "relenting" or "dropping resistance"....for example, "She always got her way and he too would eventually succumb to her charms".  In this case, the term is simply a substitute for the phrase "give in" but with possibly a more erotic undertone.  For me, "succumb" relates more to the human influences and would be used in some relative manner as opposed to an inantimate reference.  With regard to the terminal aspects, I am more comfortable with the person "suffering" the wound/poison/cancer and succumbing to expected death.  ~WB

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      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) ?

  7. Howard S. profile image90
    Howard S.posted 6 years ago

    The initial question addresses the animacy of the direct object. In response to @Becky Katz, @teresapelka, switches to the animacy of the subject--by discussing 'negotiation' as a meaning component of 'succumb'.

    I venture that, rather than animacy of either participant, what is at play here is the 'inevitability' of the outcome. That's close to what you were getting at with 'negotiation', but without involving the participants.

    So, faced with a situation where the outcome is not inherently inevitable, an animate or inanimate (direct) object could succumb--or not. Where the inevitability is not in question--as with a guillotine, for example--it would be awkward to succumb.

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      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

  8. leroy64 profile image81
    leroy64posted 6 years ago

    According  to the Merriam Webster dictionary, yielding to overwhelming force or disease is the  traditional  meaning of the word succumb.  To me the word implies resistance  to the force or disease.  "Succumb" feels natural to me in the examples you wrote, as long as the context  involves a resistance to the force.

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      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?)

  9. profile image0
    Garifaliaposted 6 years ago

    "The insecure teenager succumbed to peer pressure to drink stupidly.
    His oddly thin legs succumbed under the weight he had to carry.
    He finally succumbed to his illness on December 12th."

    Yes, I would use it in such a way. It's a powerful word to use when you want to convey how someone, against his will, had to surrender or give in to something.

    1. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      '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.

    2. profile image0
      Garifaliaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      With that explanation I understand what you're asking for and the answer is No.

    3. teresapelka profile image63
      teresapelkaposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks! I found this use the media and wondered if it really was correct. Myself, I'd never say someone 'succumbed' when he or she would be unable to act according to own volition. The media use is probably some overgeneralized dramatic narrative.


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