Language fatality

State departments of transportation and traffic reporters refer to a crash in which someone has been killed as a "fatality accident." Why isn't it a "fatal accident"?

Probably because of the ambiguity created by the two different meanings of "fatal": "caused by fate" and "deadly."

1 comment:

thenakedlistener said...

"Fatal" means causing (or capable of causing) death. Only a word extremist would (or could) construe that word to mean 'decreed by fate' - which would be better served by words such as 'fatalistic' or (even better) 'destined' or 'predestined.' But why not just use the simpler, crisper English phrase 'deadly accident,' which gets the point across quicker and understood more readily by 99% of us?