Enervate (spotted in Harry Potter)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling, published 2001
“My elf has been stunned.” Diggory raised his own wand, pointed it at Winky, and said, Ennervate!” Winky stirred feebly. Her great brown eyes opened.

In researching enervate, it came to my attention that Ms. Rowling named a spell for it — one that revived rather than exhausted. On the surface, it seems like Rowling fell into the trap of equating enervate with “energize.” Being a Potter fan and appreciating Rowling’s breadth of knowledge in things classical and literary, I would like to extend clemency to her based on her spelling. Ennervate (with two ns) could be a British spelling of innervate, a medical term that means “to supply with nerves.” I honestly don’t know. The British use ensure where Americans use insure, but then again, Americans often use ensure where other Americans use insure. Perhaps a literate UK reader can inlighten us — I mean, enlighten us.

— Otto E. Mezzo

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