amass may be similar to mass but not to a mass

Es­ti­mated reading time is 1 minute.

FROM TODAY’S SEATTLE TIMES (No­vember 10, 2013, page A7) the head­line reads, “Venezue­lans amass for bar­gains at seized stores.” This jumped out at me for the odd use of “amass” in this con­text.  As a tran­si­tive verb, the pri­mary de­f­i­n­i­tion of amass is “to col­lect for one­self : ac­cu­mu­late.” But its sec­ondary meaning is “to col­lect into a mass; gather.”

As an in­tran­si­tive verb, the de­f­i­n­i­tion of amass is “to come to­gether; as­semble.” (Merriam-Webster On­line)

So its use in the head­line above is cor­rect, if awk­ward. For most modern Amer­ican readers, the word that should go there is mass. As an in­tran­si­tive verb, mass means “to as­semble in a mass.”

Of course, now we must look up mass as a noun, where it has sev­eral mean­ings (es­pe­cially if you are Roman Catholic). But the de­f­i­n­i­tion op­er­able for us is “a large body of per­sons in a group.” (Merriam-Webster On­line)

So, both amass and mass are proper usage, but the one is awk­ward and highly out of the or­di­nary in con­ver­sa­tional speech and stan­dard writing.

So, for us ‘nor­mals,’ a better head­line would have been “Venezue­lans mass for bar­gains at seized stores.”

Notify of
Rate this article:
Please rate this article with your comment.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Now I have amas­sive headache............................. Don’t you think these Venezue­lans are taking ad­van­tage of those poor stores? I never even knew a store could have a seizure! Whew new?
Maybe your place in this world is a new head­line editor?
“This ain’t rock ‘n roll, this is pedanticide!”
Thanks for keeping a smile (smirk) on my face.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x