Am I correct with what I think are errors? Please note that the Wall Street Journal links require a subscription.


Error 1: damping should be dampening


U.S. Hopes for Allawi Are Dwindling
Failure to Forge Coalition
May Reduce Election Odds
For Interim Iraqi Leader

Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL November 22, 2004; Page A13

KARBALA, Iraq -- Iraq's electoral commission said the country will go to the polls Jan. 30 to choose its next government, fueling political maneuvering that is damping U.S. hopes of seeing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi retain power.

You should replace damping with dampening.

Error 2: damping should be dampening


Wal-Mart Loses Discount Edge
In Sluggish Early Holiday Sales

Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL November 30, 2004

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. acknowledged that a strategic shift to boost profits by ratcheting back discounts has backfired, damping sales during the crucial Thanksgiving holiday period and forcing the company to revise its November sales forecast.

You should replace damping with dampening.
1 2
No I think damping is correct. As well as making something a bit wet, to dampen can also mean to smother a fire, not using water, but by cutting off its air with a layer of ash or so on. This would seem an appropriate metaphor in these cases.
Do you usually 'damp down' something (e.g. 'speculation')?

But then: 'damped his enthusiasm for...'
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Hi Nona,



damp·ing (dam'ping)
The capacity built into a mechanical or electrical device to prevent excessive correction and the resulting instability or oscillatory conditions.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


damp·en (dam'p?n)

v., -ened, -en·ing, -ens.

1. To make damp.
To deaden, restrain, or depress: “trade moves . . . aimed at dampening protectionist pressures in Congress” (Christian Science Monitor).
2. To soundproof.
3. To become damp.

damp'en·er n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

The dictionary only provide ONE definition for damping. To my tender ear, to reduce or restrain is to dampen. If you are reducing or restraining, you are dampening.

But it seems that you and Wall Street Journal disagree with my interpretation.

So will I use damp or dampen in the future? Me thinks I will use "dampen"; however, it seems that there is more than one right answer.


Neither of those examples seem familiar to me. Maybe it is just me?

Wouldn't be the first time.

Hello MH

'd.d. speculation' is no doubt a BrE idiom. We are a damp country. Though I think it derives from 'damping down' (= laying) dust etc. (I suppose we're quite dusty, too.)

Brewer in his 'Phrase and Fable' has 'damper' for a snack 'before dinner which damps or takes off the edge of appetite. "That's a damper" also means a wet-blanket influence, a rebuff which damps or cools one's courage...The mute of a stringed instrument is also called a "damper"'. The first two are C19 phrases though.

'Damp enthusiasm' was wrong, on reflection; it should have been 'dampened his enthusiasm'.


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I guess "damping" then is more of a technical term than I thought. I thought "dampen" only meant to wet.

In Internet routing, a flapping route is DAMPED according to Jumiper but DAMPENED according to Cisco. The correct utilization is DAMPED.

Same with spring oscillations. "Shock Absorbers" are actually called "dampers" everywhere except the US. Technically the spring is the shock absorber, and the "shock absorber" is to damp the spring oscillations. I work in both suspension engineering and IP network management for a major ISP, and when people misuse the terms in either field it's a bit of a sore spot.Emotion: wink
That must be some job description, JamesM.
I cringe inside when I hear the phrase "Inertial Dampeners" in science fiction-type programs. I really believe that dampers would be the correct word in this instance.

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