Part of speech:
(Like “eat,” “try,” and “want,” all transitive verbs do something to an object.
You eat a banana, try a game, and want a new phone.
Likewise, you efface something.)
To efface something is to totally get rid of it or wipe it out, as if you're rubbing it away with an eraser.
If you efface yourself, you're removing yourself from the focus of attention, and making yourself almost disappear.
effaced, effacing, effacement, self-effacement, self-effacing
Yes, there's a reason for the word "face" being in "efface."
The word roots literally mean "remove the face."
(Consider that the "face" of something often means its appearance,
so effacing something means removing all traces of it.)
How to use it:
Talk about effacing a memory or effacing knowledge, effacing a disagreement or a rift, effacing authority or leadership, effacing a boundary or border or distinction, effacing a style or identity or characteristic, effacing an injustice or infraction, and so on.
Often we'll talk about something effaced by something else: a word's precise meaning effaced by misuse, the backup singers' talent effaced by the lead singer's antics, the words on a gravestone effaced by weather and time, etc.
You can talk about something effacing a person, but it's more common to talk specifically about effacing someone's role, effacing someone's authority or importance, effacing someone's celebrity status, and so on.
If you're talking about somebody effacing a person, that's usually done with a reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself, etc.): I efface myself, you efface yourself, he effaces himself, and so on. And when you talk about this idea of self-effacement, or self-effacing things (like self-effacing humor, self-effacing manners, a self-effacing style of speaking, etc.) then the meaning is a little different: Self-effacement means removing yourself from the focus of attention, and making yourself almost disappear. (It doesn't mean destroying yourself.)
Be careful with using "self-effacement," "self-effacing," and so on. Many people say "self-effacing" when what they really mean is "self-deprecating," which is making fun of yourself or putting yourself down. That's not the same thing as withdrawing yourself from the focus of attention to make yourself nearly invisible, which is what self-effacement is.
Teachers know that any shred of control you have over a classroom will be effaced by failing to follow through on the consequences for rule-breaking.
I like this refreshingly self-effacing radio ad that says "Come and see us; the service is adequate and the prices are pretty fair."
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "efface" means when you can explain it without saying “rub out" or “totally remove."
Think of someone you know who is shy and doesn't like to be the center of attention, and fill in the blanks: "In/At (a particular situation,) (Person) prefers to efface (himself/herself) by _____."
Example: "At a dinner party, my friend prefers to efface himself by staying outside to man the grill and make sure everyone has enough to eat."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game content is protected by a copyright, so I can't reprint the trivia questions here--but check out the thoughtful and thorough reference book that I got them from: Last Words of Notable People!
A Point Well Made:
Samuel Johnson: “I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of earth and … the sons of heaven.”
1. The opposite of EFFACE is
A. CONSTRUCT or SPOTLIGHT
B. TURN AWAY or IGNORE
C. GIVE UP or SURRENDER
2. The _____ "farther" and "further" has long since been effaced, so _____.
A. confusion between .. now more than ever, people don't know which one to use
B. similarity of .. it's no surprise that they share a common root
C. distinction between .. I doubt anyone cares if you use them interchangeably
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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