phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Facebook  Twitter

Collateral damage

Posted by Masakim on November 22, 2001

In Reply to: Collateral damage posted by ESC on November 22, 2001

: : I'm hoping someone out there in cyber space can fill me in on the origin of the euphemism, collateral damage. I writing an english paper on the development of this phrase, and I'm having trouble tracking down its beginnings.

: : Thannks, Jewels

: Safire's New Political Dictionary has two mentions of collateral damage:
: SALT - "Strategic Arms Limitation Talks begun in Helsinki in November 1969, between the Soviet Union and the U.S. Most often used redundantly, as SALT talks.'.There were two SALT rounds: SALT I lasted from 1969 through 1972; SALT II lasted from 1973 to 1979.The vocabulary of nuclear warfare causes some shudders (see UNTHINKABLE THOUGHTS), and in some cases, deliberately mocks itself: the acronym for 'Mutual Assured Destruction' is MAD. Despite these trepidations, things must have names, and in 1975 the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency issued its revised 'SALT lexicon,' selections from which follows:.Collateral Damage: The damage to surrounding human and non-human resources, either military or non-military, as the result of action or strikes directed specifically against enemy forces of military facilities. This term was turned into a euphemism during the Gulf War of 1991." From Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Pages 682-683.
: EUPHEMISMS, POLITICAL - ".The Gulf War of 1990-91 produced its own spate of euphemisms: 'collateral damage' (civilian casualties resulting from bombing military targets). From Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Page 227.

: The term is also found in "20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years" by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, New York, 1999). Page 466: "collateral damage n. destruction or injury beyond the intent or expectation of an aggressor, usually occurring in a civilian area surrounding a military target. Commonly used as a euphemism for 'accidentally killing civilians.' ."

It was used before the year 1975.

"With 'smart bombs' you can assure yourself that there will be no collateral damage," one officer said. "In other words, they hit the target and not the civilians."
--New York Times, July 24, 1972

Comment Form is loading comments...