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  • Noun

enormity

i-NAWR-mi-tee

Context
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The sheer enormity or great evil of the conflict in Darfur is almost unimaginable: many hundreds of thousands have been brutally killed so far. The enormity and horrors of the crimes committed become clear when one visits the refugee camps, where one finds young children and women who have lost all hope. Many journalists who visit Darfur come back shocked and depressed because they are totally unprepared for the enormity or extreme moral offensiveness of the human tragedy they have witnessed.

Quiz: When would it be appropriate to refer to the enormity of a ruler?

  • When that ruler has made such immense and positive changes that they are beloved by almost every citizen.
  • When that ruler has committed wicked and vicious acts against their people.
  • When that ruler has achieved a level of power that no ruler in history has experienced.
Definition

Memory Hook
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Enormous Pity One can feel enormous pity for the horrifying enormity of a catastrophe in which many thousands of people have pointlessly died.

Examples
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  • When we dwell on the enormity of the Second World War and its victims, we try to absorb all those statistics of national and ethnic tragedy. But, as a result, there is a tendency to overlook the way the war changed even the survivors' lives in ways impossible to predict. —Antony Beevor, British historian and author
  • With climate change, species extinctions, and ocean damages rapidly accelerating worldwide, there is great value in preserving as much land and water as we can. Hydro Quebec never acknowledges the enormity of the crimes it commits against nature and people. —The Altamont Enterprise
  • The world’s vital insect kingdom is undergoing “death by a thousand cuts,” the world’s top bug experts said. . . . The problem, sometimes called the insect apocalypse, is like a jigsaw puzzle. And scientists say they still don’t have all the pieces, so they have trouble grasping its enormity and complexity and getting the world to notice and do something. —ABC News
  • Rupert Goold, the director, portrays Mayer almost as a monster, emphasising his enormity—especially when compared with the diminutive Garland—and half-hiding him in shadows. —The Economist

Word Ingredients
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e- out of, from
norm carpenter's square, pattern, standard
-ity state or quality

Enormity is, at core, the “state or quality” of being “out of a pattern or standard” of acceptable conduct, thus going into an area that is beyond normal or acceptable “patterns” or “standards” of the way things should be.

Word Constellation
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Enormity