Sabotage
From 'Vocabulary' part of The ABC Of Plain Words by Sir E Gowers (1951)

Sabotage is defined as "deliberate and organised destruction of plant, machinery, etc., by dissatisfied workmen, hence, generally, any malicious or wanton destruction". It has come much into favour of late, especially to signify the wrecking of some project or agreement in an underhand way by one of the parties to it. Perhaps that is because there has been so much of that sort of thing going on in international affairs during the last twenty years.

The right of sabotage to be a verb is disputed. "Let us by all means sabotage the verb", says Sir Alan Herbert, "for the robust verb to wreck will always do the same work better". When wreck, destroy, or damage will serve as well, one of these words ought of course to be preferred. But will they always serve? They have not the same implication of disloyalty as sabotage has. The use of sabotage as a verb is recognised by the dictionaries and will take some sabotaging.

« Guide » « ABC of Plain Words » « Use Of English » « Library » « Home »