Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: wean.

wean. “Wean” means either “to cause (a child or young animal) to become accustomed to food other than the mother’s milk” or, by extension, “to withdraw (a person) gradually from a source of dependence.” Thus, a person is typically “weaned off” something — e.g.: o “Skeptics have claimed this decline in caseload would slow and then halt once the most employable welfare recipients were weaned off the rolls.” Robert Rector, “Don’t Listen to Naysayers: Welfare Reform Is Working,” Las Vegas Rev.-J., 27 Apr. 1997, at D8. o “The FDA recommends patients stop taking the drugs immediately. But some doctors say patients can experience depression unless they are weaned off them.” “Q&A,” St. Petersburg Times, 16 Sept. 1997, at A3. But “weaned on” — used illogically in the sense “raised on, brought up with” — is a spreading contagion. E.g.: o “For a culture weaned on [read ‘brought up on’] Hollywood’s interpretation of romance, the very notion that any healthy, intelligent, attractive male might desire a woman over 35 is a radical concept.” Shari Graydon, “There’s Powerful Appeal in the Wrinkles of Age,” Vancouver Sun, 25 May 1996, at D6. o “We women were weaned on [read ‘nurtured on’ or ‘brought up on’] tales of princes and princesses, fairy godmothers, ugly villains and comely heroes of noble character winning against the odds at every turn.” Bea Perry, “The Dream Is Over,” Denver Post, 12 Oct. 1997, at D5. Language-Change Index — “weaned on” for “raised on”: Stage 2. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The best writers have many ideas and hence hold them cheap, while the poor writers have few ideas and hence cherish them.” Walter B. Pitkin, The Art of Useful Writing 18 (1940). ====================
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