I work in the IT field (software development). Whenever we get some task to do I hear my supervisors saying,

I will intimidate him regarding this (to do some task).

When I searched I found that the meaning of intimidate contains some threatening voice or fear in it. But I am sure that my supervisors didn't say it in that sense.

So is what they said above a correct usage? And does the word intimidate has a 'soft' meaning like inform (which I couldn't find) which would be more suitable here?


Intimidate means "Frighten or overawe (someone), esp. in order to make them do what one wants."

Although this does not require violence, intimidation is always agressive, and is never a "soft" or "polite" request.

What probably has happened here is that your boss actually used (or has himself misheard and is consequently misusing) the verb intimate:

Intimate (v)

  1. To announce; to declare; to publish; to communicate; to make known. (Obsolete)

    • He did proclaim and intimate open war.
  2. To suggest obscurely or indirectly; to refer to remotely; to give slight notice of; to hint;

    • He intimated his intention of resigning his office.

    • The names of simple ideas and substances, with the abstract ideas in the mind, intimate some real existence, from which was derived their original pattern.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 5
    Yes. And as your examples show, *I will intimate him regarding this is also incorrect; intimate requires the matter communicated as its Direct Object and must express the Indirect Object with a prepositional phrase: I will intimate this to him. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 25 '13 at 14:34
  • 5
    I think it's more likely that his supervisor is just trying to sound more intelligent than he is ;) – UpTheCreek Mar 25 '13 at 17:45
  • 1
    @UpTheCreek: and if any of my supervisors join ell.stackexchange.com and come across this question, I am doomed. :) – Inquisitive Mar 26 '13 at 7:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.