Self-destruct

Speaking of Mission Impossible (previous post) I always hated that catchphrase, “This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds.” What on Earth was “destruct” supposed to mean? The verb is “to destroy,” not “to destruct.” (Fair enough, my dictionary defines destruct in terms of blowing up rockets. Not tape machines you will note, though, but rockets.)

Self-destruct sounds to me the invention of someone with a tin ear. What is wrong with, “This tape will destroy itself in ten seconds?” The worst that really makes sense is, “This tape will self-destroy in ten seconds.”

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  1. Denis Cullinan

    I remember in the early sixties, it must have been, that the NASA people came up with the “self-destruct” thing. I looked out the etymology of the word on the everlasting Internet and got almost no relevant hits, and those were ignoracious like you wouldn’t believe.

    —–Denis

  2. jackdeighton

    I thought it might be a USian thing, Denis.
    Mind you, a lot of folk this side of the pond don’t think about etymologically what they’re saying.

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