by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

hate v. To loathe; detest. 

      One of the difficulties in the language is that all our words from loose using have lost their edge. 
           -- Ernest Hemingway
Our first day back from the honeymoon marked the beginning of my shortest marriage so far.  I went to the hardware store for some odds and ends.  My new bride surprised me in the kitchen.
"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Putting in cup-hooks," replied I, beaming.

"I don't believe in cup-hooks."

I dropped my pliers.  "You don't?"

My new bride endeavored to smile.

The expression struck my mind at a funny angle.  I whispered the words to myself, "I don't believe in cup-hooks."

Up to that exact moment, cup-hooks had seemed like mere hardware items, something neither to believe in nor not to believe in.  Cup-hooks just are.  Now, one might not like them.  And possibly with good reason.  Whatever their contribution to volumetric efficiency in the kitchen, cup-hooks may damage cups, for all I know.  ("Oh, I believe in them, all right," a wife might then say.  "I just don't want the confounded things in my cupboards.")

Some people do like cup-hooks, though.  I'm sure of that.  Else why do cup-hooks continue in the marketplace decade after decade?  Cup-hooks probably constitute a growth industry.  It would surprise me not at all to hear someone say, "I love cup-hooks."

That may be going too far.

Whereas Eskimos have a dozen words for "snow," natives in Central America have none.  The latter, however, employ a dozen words for "love."  That's eleven more than the English Language.  To avoid misunderstandings, we have to say things like, "I love him like a brother."  In the Equatorial rain forests, people just say "I [love #8] him."  They might even reserve a special kind of "love" just for cup-hooks.  I diligently avoid wasting English's one and only "love" on inanimate objects.

All around us, are casual excesses.  Some are deadly.  Consider these...

  • A comedian "murders" his audience.
  • A product "slaughters" its competition.
  • A teenager will "die" without a date.
  • A parent idly threatens to "kill" a misbehaving offspring.
In contrast, abuse of the word "love" becomes a minor matter indeed.  On further reflection, it's OK to love cup-hooks.  Less minor may be the dispassionate use of "hate."
Reminder: The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference.
In the human brain, the center of love is but a few millimeters removed from the center of hate.  Sufficiently energized, either can stimulate the other.  The so-called love/hate relationship may be more than a fictional plot device.{Hypernote}
You want to zap somebody?  Don't say you hate them; just slather them with apathy.
Loose use of "hate" does more than diminish the effect of a potent word, it pejorates our conversational lives.
  • "I hate asparagus."
  • "I hate heavy metal (or Gustav Mahler)."
  • "I hate people who...(say hate?)"
  • "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but..."
It would surprise me not at all to hear someone say, "I hate cup-hooks."  On further reflection, it's OK not to believe in cup-hooks.
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Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, 
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
Zara in Act 3, Scene 2, usually paraphrased as Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
-- William Congreve 1670 1729