I noticed the two nouns. complaints and Discomfortto be used interchangeably, as if both simply meant “the state of discomfort – physical or mental”.
Toothache causes discomfort. Certain topics of conversation cause discomfort for some listeners. When I read the comments on my posts, vulgar language and ad hominem attacks make me uncomfortable.
DiscomfortOn the other hand, it seems to me to convey something more intense than the discomfort of the body or the discomfort of seeing or talking about unpleasant topics. Discomfort is discomfort, accompanied by additional feelings such as embarrassment, frustration and humiliation.
For example, discomfort is what I feel when I spot a typo or (worse) a factual mistake in one of my posts after I click the submit button and have no way to correct it.
Here are some examples of suitable applications for Discomfort::
Mr. Gove, his cheeks wonderfully roughened, was at a loss. Finally, he muttered something about the Prime Minister being a man he admired. Mr. Sheerman, delighted with the minister’s discomfort, gave a warm giggle.
The government can do at least two things to quickly demonstrate real support for the Iranians – and to increase the discomfort of Khamenei and Rouhani.
There is something in the British psyche that enjoys the discomfort of successful people.
Excited about the uneasiness of their masters, the peoples of European empires licked their lips elsewhere in the world and waited for the next European war.
In each example, the word indicates feelings of embarrassment, frustration, failure, or defeat.
The nouns complaints and Discomfort related verbs have: complaints and Cause discomfort.
complaints as a verb dates from the fourteenth century and Cause discomfort from the thirteenth.
The older verb, Cause discomfortseems to be making a comeback, but modern speakers are rarely, if ever, used complaints as a verb. That’s a shame.
In a culture where it is very important that people “feel good”, we need a verb that means “feel uncomfortable”.
An early meaning of the verb Cause discomfort is “to defeat or defeat in battle”. For example,
He had prayed that the Lord would scatter, discomfort, and destroy all those who rose against His Majesty.
In modern use Cause discomfort has two common meanings: “embarrass” and “frustrate the plans”.
Here are appropriate examples of Cause discomfort::
“Many changes for the better, I should expect,” said my uncle, who was happy to trouble priests. – Gary Jennings, Aztec Autumn (2006).
Johnson’s claim that he needs the prorogue to prepare important laws is, of course, just a window dressing. This is a tactical step to disrupt your opponents. – –The AustralianAugust 31, 2019.
But I doubt there is a judge in the state who dares to bother a chief of police in this way [jail the chief until subordinates return confiscated goods]. – A lawyer blog dated April 5, 2019.
Here are two examples of Cause discomfort used where it seems that complaints would be a better choice:
We wanted to involve the students both cognitively and non-cognitively, to disappoint them to a certain extent, to cause self-reflection without the usual challenges of data protection and culture filters. – 2019 case study on public policy teaching.
In other places, but I’m glad I haven’t been able to say in Purdue yet, the students have asked that they be “safe” from language, that is, from words that challenge or disturb them. – Speech.
In these two examples, the meaning appears to be “uncomfortable” rather than “embarrassing or frustrating their intentions”.
I am always happy when archaic words are brought back to life – as long as they meet the need for a new meaning or a new shadow of meaning. Cause discomfort and Discomfort deserve to be used as independent meaningful words, not as slightly pompous synonyms for complaints.
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