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"Renew" vs. "Replace" (minimal Audi content..long)
Let me see if I can claritize this for myself:
I "renew" my driver's license and my library books, and maybe the finish
on my bowling ball.
I "replace" my automotive fasteners with new ones.
I am a 'Murrican, and my usage is technically incorrect. Phil Payne is
speaking English, and since he IS in England, he's right and we're a bunch
of language-bastardizing philistine ninnies ;-). I feel badly about this, but if
I go to my local garage mechanic and ask him to renew all the fasteners in
my front suspension, he'll probably shoot me a funny look and an even
more colorful phrase, and if I persist in correcting his misconstructions of
speech I might find, as John Gotti once put it, that "my head got away
from my hat" before he even gets started on my car.
My Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary here at DePaul Law School (in
the desk before I got here) doesn't offer much help:
"Renew" - 1: to make _like_ new : restore to freshness, vigor, or
perfection 2: to make new spiritually : REGENERATE 3: a: to restore to
existence: REVIVE b: to make extensive changes in : REBUILD 4: to do
again : REPEAT 5: to begin again : RESUME
and finally, way down in sixth place,
6: REPLACE, REPLENISH < ~ the water in a tank >
and then goes on to define "replace" as
"Replace" - 1: to restore to a former place or position < ~ the cards in a
file> 2: to take the place of esp. as a substitute or a successor 3: to put
something new in the place of < ~ a worn carpet>
So, if we were taking out the old bolts and wishing to put new ones in,
but needed to know definitively the word that described this action before
we did it (it's an English professor's car, say), and we had really pointy
heads, and consulted the Merriam Webster dictionary, first we'd go to
Renew (alphabetically) and see that nothing there _exactly_ fits, then
we'd follow the link to Replace and either 1) put the old bolt back in
(contrary to our intention and more importantly those of the Audi Gods),
2) insert some part of ourselves in the place of the bolt (BAD idea) and
then finally 3) give ourselves the license to fit that new bolt.
However, I think that in most cases we Audi owners, always seeking the
Platonic Driving Machine (way beyond Ultimate), would argue that
"restore to...perfection" above means we should AT LEAST "Renew"
them with new bolts and therefore stop there, but apparently we
Americans are free to play a little loosey-goosey with the language and
"replace" them as well.
After I've recovered from my unfortunate incident, I go to pick up my car
from that local mechanic who put the old bolts back in (because he's a
bad mechanic as well as a bully) and ask him whether he "renewed" the
bolts or "replaced" the bolts and he'll clobber me again, with something
heavier this time...
Whew! I'm dizzy! No mas, no mas!
I agree with Phil (I think) that it makes sense that "Re-NEW" means "new
bolt" and "Re-PLACE" means "put the old one back in the same location",
but that just ain't the way we say it, bubba.