ravaging vs ravishing vs ravenous : Common Errors in English

About ravaging vs ravishing vs ravenous

To ravage is to pillage, sack, or devastate. The only time “ravaging” is properly used is in phrases like “when the pirates had finished ravaging the town, they turned to ravishing the women.” Which brings us to “ravish": meaning to rape, or rob violently. A trailer court can be ravaged by a storm (nothing is stolen, but a lot of damage is done) but not ravished. The crown jewels of Ruritania can be ravished (stolen using violence) without being ravaged (damaged). To confuse matters, people began back in the fourteenth century to speak metaphorically of their souls being “ravished” by intense spiritual or esthetic experiences. Thus we speak of a “ravishing woman” (the term is rarely applied to men) today not because she literally rapes men who look at her but because her devastating beauty penetrates their hearts in an almost violent fashion. Despite contemporary society’s heightened sensitivity about rape, we still remain (perhaps fortunately) unconscious of many of the transformations of the root meaning in words with positive connotations such as “rapturous."Originally, “raven” as a verb was synonymous with “ravish” in the sense of “to steal by force.” One of its specialized meanings became “devour,” as in “the lion ravened her prey.” By analogy, hungry people became “ravenous” (as hungry as beasts), and that remains the only common use of the word today.If a woman smashes your apartment up, she ravages it. If she looks stunningly beautiful, she is ravishing. If she eats the whole platter of hors d’oeuvres you’ve set out for the party before the other guests come, she’s ravenous.

ravaging Meaning(s)

  • (n) plundering with excessive damage and destruction
  • (s) ruinously destructive and wasting

ravishing Meaning(s)

  • (s) stunningly beautiful

ravenous Meaning(s)

  • (s) extremely hungry
  • (s) devouring or craving food in great quantities

ravaging in News

  1. New Jersey moves ahead with buyouts for flooded homes in Sayreville

    SAYREVILLE — After years of trying to save his Weber Avenue home from the ravaging floodwaters of the South River, Larry Gates is hoping that permanent relief is on the horizon.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: Asbury Park Press

  2. First wave of buyouts in Sayreville announced

    SAYREVILLE — After years of trying to save his Weber Avenue home from the ravaging flood waters of the South River, Larry Gates is hoping that permanent relief is on the horizon.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: MyCentralJersey.com

  3. Car bombs hit markets in Iraq, killing 25

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants detonated explosives-laden cars around two busy markets in central Iraq on Monday, killing 25 people and wounding dozens, the latest in a wave of violence ravaging the country.
    on June 10, 2013 Source: Associated Press via Yahoo! News

ravishing in News

ravenous in News

  • How to feel full on a diet

    When you're trying to lose weight, it can be hard to stick to a lower-calorie menu if you're feeling ravenous the whole time.
    on June 9, 2013 Source: Erie Times-News

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