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Electrocution Definition

When did the definition of ELECTROCUTION change. The Cambridge dictionary still states only DEATH and not INJURY. I thing Oxford's definition is incorrect.


  • The OED takes the 'execution' meaning as primary — on the grounds that the word is a blend of electro- and -cution from execution.

    The secondary meaning is 'death or injury by accident from electricity'. All of the examples given involve death — until the latest example, which from this century:

    2005 Time Out N.Y. 20 Jan. 65/4 [Marina] Abramovic has endured electrocution, near asphyxiation, and starvation all in the hopes of disturbing people as the self-described ‘Grandmother of Performance Art’.

    Although the artist survived, the pairing with 'near asphyxiation' does suggest something stronger than just 'injury'.

  • One of the examples supporting the Oxford Online Dictionary definition is:

    ‘He witnessed the fatal electrocution of a tradesman, and saw at a very early age just how dangerous the workplace could be.’

    The implication is that electrocution can also be non-fatal.

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