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Usage of the word epicenter

Usage of the word epicenter

Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
I am fighting a losing battle over the use of this word. I know, I know.

Epicenter
  • The point on the earth’s surface vertically above the focus of an earthquake.
The issues with this related usage have been that it is understood by the layman to mean where the earthquake was focused. Where the Earthquake is focused is called the hypocenter. I can easily forgive this usage as it is an easy misunderstanding and no meaning is lost. I'm not quite that pedantic

Epicenter
  • The central point of something, typically a difficult or unpleasant situation:

  • Examples:
    1. By the late 1980s and 1990s, however, there had been a shift in the epicenter of concern about ecology.
    2. And at the epicentre of the military build-up is it's air base.
    3. The epicentre of military action, and therefore, of military losses, in the European war was the German - Soviet war.
This definition is causing me issues. People are saying the epicenter of the explosion or the epicenter of the violence or the epicenter of such and such event. That is not the meaning of the words "central point" in this usage. Politics can have a point / epicenter. An exercise can have a point / epicenter. An explosion can have a central point but that central point is NOT an epicenter unless you are referring to the central point as a means to maim or kill. In other words, central point is NOT the point in the center like of a target but instead it is the PURPOSE such as archery sport.

I know I am probably being too pedantic here but I strongly feel I know what I am talking about but it's like trying to convert a vegan to eat meat. It always ends in "I interpret it differently" or "I guess we must agree to disagree" . No I do not agree, your usage is wrong and it should changed! subtitled "I must resist the urge to kill, killing is bad"

Comments are more than welcome, I have not yet developed an ability to strangle at a distance.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
Commenting on my own post, dangerous, I know.

Further elaboration. Epicenter is not a synonym for central point where Epicenter can replace the words central point and not change the meaning.

e.g.
The explosion had a central point
The explosion had an epicenter

These do not mean the same thing with correct usage

My central point is that this usage is wrong
My epicenter is that this usage is wrong

This is obviously incorrect usage

The epicenter of my argument is that epicenter is being misused to mean a center point not a central point.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

My input:

It depends on what definition is used as the 'authoritive' one.

It does mean the same thing as 'center'.

Quote (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)



Full Definition of EPICENTER
1: the part of the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake — compare hypocenter 1
2: center 2a, b, c <the epicenter of world finance>
— epi·cen·tral \ˌe-pi-ˈsen-trəl\ adjective

Synonyms axis, base, capital, central, core, cynosure, center, eye, focus, ground zero, heart, hub, locus, mecca, navel, nerve center, nexus, nucleus, omphalos, seat

And that shows the synonym for center as:

Quote (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


Related to CENTER

Synonyms axis, base, capital, central, core, cynosure, epicenter, eye, focus, ground zero, heart, hub, locus, mecca, navel, nerve center, nexus, nucleus, omphalos, seat, where it's at

It doesn't mean the same thing

Quote (Dictionary.com)


a focal point, as of activity:

So, depending on how it is defined, epicenter can mean the center of something - in which case it can be interchanged with center point. But it can also mean the center of an activity; in which case the relation to epicenter is murky. One definition is a physical thing (epicenter = center point), the other isn't quiet a physical thing (epicenter = focal point).

-SQLBill

-SQLBill


The following is part of my signature block and is only intended to be informational.
Posting advice: FAQ481-4875: What should I know before I post?

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
@SQLBill

Due to the reasons you've specified, I choose not to believe any definition as an authority.

I research the etymology of a word in dispute and observe the usage and decide for myself whether usage is non-standard common or simply non-standard annoying.

Typically if a word like center can be said to mean the same thing as epicenter then the obvious question becomes what purpose does the prefix epi- serve in specializing/modifying the word. If the answer to that question is no change at all then one word should be defined as a legacy and not be in common usage. I use the words flammable and inflammable to illustrate this point. Habitable and inhabitable is another. If however, a word has a distinct meaning in another format then applying equivalency based on which source you choose simply resigns the battle without a fight. In this electronic age, no source is absolute in matters such as these. I would not be asking this question in this forum if I did not trust the answers here more than the sources you've provided. Another counter argument to the sources defence is the ease by which you can find words with well known disfavor defined in well known unfavorable ways but others do not mention the conflict at all.

The example of this case is irregardless.

Quote (dictionary.com)

Irregardless is considered nonstandard because of the two negative elements ir- and -less. It was probably formed on the analogy of such words as irrespective, irrelevant, and irreparable. Those who use it, including on occasion educated speakers, may do so from a desire to add emphasis. Irregardless first appeared in the early 20th century and was perhaps popularized by its use in a comic radio program of the 1930s.

No mention above at all of the conflict this word has inflicted upon the world as even the Urban dictionary acknowledges.

Quote (Urban Dictionary)

Used by people who ignorantly mean to say regardless. According to webster, it is a word, but since the prefix "ir" and the suffx "less" both mean "not or with" they cancel each other out, so what you end up with is regard. When you use this to try to say you don't care about something, you end up saying that you do. Of course everyone knows what you mean to say and only a pompous,rude asshole will correct you.

Or the more balanced approach of Oxford

Quote (Oxford Dictionary)

Irregardless means the same as regardless, but the negative prefix ir- merely duplicates the suffix -less, and is unnecessary. The word dates back to the 19th century, but is regarded as incorrect in standard English.

No, I'm sorry but I cannot accept your argument for the reasons stated. Sources are flawed. Usage is king. To date, my experience says epicenter still holds it's true unwatered down meaning and it is only a few that need to be beaten into submission before it gets out of hand.

Thanks for the challenge though, that was fun

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

Quote:

Usage is king.

Well, the usage is for epicenter and center to be interchangeable. bigsmile Usage doesn't make things right either....look at the usage of literally and virtually. The way those are used annoy me more than epicenter/center. Language is a losing battle...kind of like statistics. People make them mean whatever they want at the moment. It might be annoying to some, but the majority don't seem to care. The word "like" is another....there was a time that word was, like, added to every sentence.

As for dictionaries....I kind of agree with you there. Anyone can put out a dictionary and put their own slant on words. Doesn't make it right, but if enough people reference it....it does become right. Few can agree on what a word means much less which source should be the authoritive one.

-SQLBill

The following is part of my signature block and is only intended to be informational.
Posting advice: FAQ481-4875: What should I know before I post?

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
@SQLBill

I take your point on this issue literally. It is a very fine point I am trying to make and it is a very small community that even uses this word much less misuses it. Sometimes on this forum it is the unusual that attracts attention and discussion as I have tried to do here. The fact that you have been the only responder indicates that interest in discussion on a purely merit level is low. I was trying to introduce a new horse in the race instead of beating the dead one. I am in an odd mood this week and this piqued my interest. (almost put peaked in there just for the lulz).

Fine, I will continue to fight the good fight regardless of the interest.

Thank you for your input and I hope a couple of things I said put a smile on your face.

P.S. That new horse / dead horse thing was good. Sometimes I surprise myself when I come up with these things.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

Here is an old thread in which I used both "center" and "epicenter" to mean roughly the same thing. I certainly didn't consult a dictionary when writing that post, so I don't know whether my usage would meet kwbMitel's or any other grammarian's approval, but I do remember thinking that "center" was a little too generic a word to capture my intent.

http://www.tek-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=1667663

Quote (karluk)

Let's say that this puzzle is a model for a small, but intense thunderstorm. The rain falls most heavily near the center of the storm, averaging 1" per hour within a mile of the epicenter. But it tapers off thereafter, averaging only 2/3" per hour between one and two miles from the epicenter. Beyond two miles, the rain tapers off to nothing. If the question is asked, "What fraction of the water falls within a mile of the center of the storm, my calculations indicate that the fraction is 1/3, and B's answer becomes the correct one.

The mathematics of the bull's eye puzzle require that the point I was referencing be the exact center of the storm. Hence the use of the word "center". But I also needed to emphasize that the point was "a focal point, as of activity" of a thunderstorm with the rain being much more intense in the middle and tapering off towards the outer extremities. Hence the use of the word "epicenter". As I recall, I was also concerned about the possibility of our argumentative friend, SidYuca, objecting that thunderstorms in general are not stationary, but move according to the prevailing winds. That meant that a plot of the rainfall during a thunderstorm is ususally not close to a circle when plotted on a map. I needed to capture the idea that the thunderstorm model had a physically moving "epicenter", rather than a geographically fixed "center", and I think epicenter captured this idea rather well. However, looking back I am not sure why I used both words in the same post instead of consistently using just one or the other. In retrospect, I feel I could have reasonably chosen either word, but should have made a choice and then stuck with it.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

kwbMitel,

It was fun. I like conversations that make me think. It's most fun when they are like this one....

Them: Here's my issue, what do you think?
Me: Here's my thoughts/view point..
Them: Well, that's interesting, but here's what I think...
and so on...until the parties agree (or agree to disagree).

I dislike it when the discussion goes:
Them: Here's my issue, what do you think?
Me: Well, here's my view point.
Them: YOU ARE WRONG!

This discussion was the first type.

BTW- I use center to mean the center of something physical. To me, epicenter means the center of an activity (earthquake, riot) or something changeable (politics). But that doesn't mean I'm right in my usage.

I'm less picky about the spoken word than I am about the written word (might be due to my being a part-time editor).

-SQLBill

The following is part of my signature block and is only intended to be informational.
Posting advice: FAQ481-4875: What should I know before I post?

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
Posting via mobile to forgive mistakes attributable to that

@Karluk
You know, now that you mention it, I was bothered by your usage in that post. However. My respect for you personnaly and my respect for the discussion relevancy required that I not comment on it. I dont like it the epicenter of the storm where the rain is heaviest does not need to be in the center of the storm. It is only in the center because you defined it to be so. It is exactly this sort of usage that I feel compelled to point out that I know what you mean but I pull out my best inigo montoya impression and say, you keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means.

@Sqlbill - thanks, thats exactly what I was trying for

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
@Karluk still on mobile

I'd like to revise my response. First I'd like to explain that any usage outside of an Earthquake bothers me as the usage is generally wrong and poorly defined. So your usage with respect to a storm would bother me at that level. However, if someone takes the time to define the parameters underwhich it is being used as you have done (most rain, relative position, moving) I accept that at face value. I'd challenge someone to find a better term in fact.

It is a common misunderstanding that epicenter is related to the most damage / highest intensity in an earthquake. It is simply the closest land surface point directly above the focus of the earthquake. This has only a weak relationship to damage or strength as earthquakes are most damaging at the point where the waveforms combine to amplify. For this to occur at the epicenter would be rare enough to be worth noting.

Your usage allows for this by defining the parameters. I might have been happier if you had chosen a point outside the center to illustrate the relational meaning but that would have hurt the point you were trying to make with the analogy.

Further, your usage of center and epicenter separately to mean separate things only further legitimizes your use and highlights that you know there is a difference as it is used for that purpose.

On second though, well done, not only acceptible it is an example I can use to help illustrate my objections for other uses

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

I'd take it from the prefix epi, which has several meanings.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epi- says it's meaning is over when prefixing center. So it's an overcenter. What should that mean? In more general epi means attached to something, at or on something. As center is a geometric superlative there is nothing more central, but as fas as I see the syllable is used for intensification of words, just as super or mega, of which super actually also is meaning above.

Anyway the definition in regard to earthquakes is a very geometrical one, and could be applied to other situations, like a storm. Even if meteorologists won't talk of an epicenter of a storm, you may consider the point on the earth surface directly under a storm center as epicenter, just perpendicular below instead of upon the storm center this time.

The term epicenter is used in many more ways referring to Merriam Webster, and I see that hurts the purist in you, kwbMitel. But we talk about center of non geometrical things, too, and that also doesn't misuse the word center, does it?

In the end it's as SQLBill said, a discussion ending in agreeing to disagree. I myself wouldn't decide for any of those two sides. I am indifferent about it.

Bye, Olaf.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)

Quote (SQLBill)

might be due to my being a part-time editor

Oh oh. Like I said, I trust the sources in this forum more than the traditional sources. When I said that, I was not aware that you were one of those sources that I was referring to. Words are more like a hobby for me. I like the unusual and especially the self-ironic words such as Sesquipedalian, Ineffable, and the recent addition Aibohphobia or the quirky ones like lather, lather, and lather. (pronunciation). My vocabulary is not large but it's good enough to impress at parties. I also like having strong opinions on things like epicenter as a way to have discussions. (not because I really care but I find it fun). Irregardless was a previous toy of mine and I absolutely loved that Urban Dictionary definition. I brought up median vs meridian and dialed vs dialled in the past and learned a lot in the past. CajunCenturion was particularly skilled in the nuances of words and I miss his contributions a lot. Anyway, welcome to my, "he deserves more respect than average club".

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
@olaf

My reason to bring this subject to MAI came from a particularly bad experience resulting from me bringing up the point to someone referring to the epicenter of an explosion. I can't see if I've mentioned that yet as I didn't feel it was very relevant. It was a grenade. Had it been an A-Bomb with an air detonation or the Halifax munitions ship where the distance from the ground amplifies the effect I might have let it slide, but not a grenade. I really do not agree with that usage. As to your Agree to disagree, well, you were fairly warned in my first post.

Quote (kwbmitel)

I strongly feel I know what I am talking about but it's like trying to convert a vegan to eat meat. It always ends in "I interpret it differently" or "I guess we must agree to disagree" .
No I do not agree, your usage is wrong and it should changed! subtitled "I must resist the urge to kill, killing is bad"

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
Message for the lurkers reading along and not participating. If your anything like me, you like to poke wasp nests just to see what happens. For the record, if you missed my saying so, I am not really as passionate on this subject as it may appear. I do this for fun. Like a radio call in host that takes a controversial stance to spark callers to call in to tell him off. It's all good as long as no one gets hurt. So, resist the urge to provoke unless it can be done with fun and enjoyment.

This discussion from our host is not the opinion of this website or any of it's affiliates. Any opinions expressed are solely the responsibility of our host.

Now a message from our sponsor...

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

Let's just hope that no one (probably an American sports commentator, if one can call "wrestling" a sport) comes up with the idea of calling a dramatic and extended entrance on to the field of combat as an ....



...



"Epic enter"

Chris.

Indifference will be the downfall of mankind, but who cares?
Time flies like an arrow, however, fruit flies like a banana.
Webmaster Forum

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
ChrisHirst, great minds think alike. I made the same sort of joke regarding the grenade.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

Argggg....kwbMitel...the editor in me can't let this one go:

Quote (kwbMitel)


If your anything like me, you like to poke wasp nests just to see what happens.

you're.... If you are anything like me.....becomes If you're anything like me. But, then, you knew that didn't you?

Back to center/epicenter...if I had to commit to a definition of epicenter, i would say the center is the middle of something (the phyisical midpoint). The epicenter is the middle of the noticeable activity. For example, an earthquake happens miles under the ground, that would be the center. However, most of the visible activity is on the ground...that would be the epicenter. Same with a tornado; the center of the tornado is above ground, but the center of the damage (activity) is at ground level.

-SQLBill

The following is part of my signature block and is only intended to be informational.
Posting advice: FAQ481-4875: What should I know before I post?

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

(OP)
Yes, SQLBill, me too. I hate that, but I was posting via mobile and asked for forgiveness prior to posting.

As for the definition, I can accept your usage in that you're using it as a relative term. With an earthquake, it has no direct relationship to damage but I can accept how that might apply to a Tornado.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

I have a love/hate relationship with my phone and typing. I love that it is convenient, but I hate that the letter are so small that I 'mistype' quite often. It can sometimes make for really interesting comments. Everyone knows how a certain word becomes 'duck' with autocorrect, but recently I sent myself a reminder text that was supposed to say: blue billed duck. It came out as something quite differently - blur billed *uck. You can guess what letter I left out. It wasn't an autocorrect mistake, but me 'fat fingering' the tiny keyboard....dang d and f are so close to each other.

-SQLBill

The following is part of my signature block and is only intended to be informational.
Posting advice: FAQ481-4875: What should I know before I post?

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

The backspace key is the most used key on my phone. I personally think the keys are designed for 14 year old fingers.

James P. Cottingham
I'm number 1,229!
I'm number 1,229!

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

When our company first started using smart phones for email..... I asked if they came in an adult size...smile

Dermis and feline can be divorced by manifold methods.*
*(Disclaimer for all advise given)--'Version Dependent'

RE: Usage of the word epicenter

Think about the situation "autocorrect" put this poor guy in ..........

Andy is watching TV & his phone notifies him of an incoming text. It says "Hi Charlie,
wanted to let you know I just got caught hopping on your wife, sorry".

Andy puts down the phone, picks up his pistol and shoots his wife.

He hears another notification of an incoming text, it says "Damn autocorrect, I meant to say
hopping on your wifi".

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