A friend asked me just now about an unusual context for the word ’employ’. To clear things up, I explained that ’employ’ actually means ‘use’. For example, one employs a hammer to drive a nail.

It struck me as odd that we never hear ‘use’ when someone says ’employ’ in relation to a person’s profession. “I am used by a large software company”. “My husband is used as a secretary”. “My daughter is used on a fixed-term basis”. Doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? Makes one sound like a piece of gym equipment.

Conversely, “I am unused” sounds far more pleasant than “I am unemployed”. I think I’ll start using it! Or rather employing it.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at wringham.co.uk

3 Responses to “Unused”

  1. Oldfool says:

    Yes and so shall I.

  2. Sean says:

    Easier to use when you also see that ID ‘badge’ is nothing more than an inventory control tag.

  3. Marcel Grünauer says:

    To continue the analogy, someone who is unable to find a job would be “useless”. Doesn’t sound better than “unemployable”, though.

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