Saturday, July 2, 2011

Exasperating or exacerbating?

During the recent NBA finals, an announcer said that a player interfering in an argument between two other players was “exasperating the situation.” No, he wasn’t. What was probably meant was “exacerbating” the situation, which means “making it worse.” The player received a technical foul from the referee, most likely exasperating his coach. Likewise, he aggravated the situation, rather than his coach, as “aggravate” also means “to make worse,” not “annoy,” which is how it is often misused.
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