Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a difference between hypnotic and hypnotizing? I believe they are synonyms but I think of hypnotic as being more metaphorical, and hypnotizing as being used, at least sometimes, as a clinical (or at least factual, non-metaphorical) term.

share|improve this question
3  
Please see this Meta question and in particular JR's answer there for hints on how to help this question to stay open and how you can avoid further downvotes. –  Andrew Leach Jan 12 '13 at 22:14
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Hypnotic" is a standard adjective, while "hypnotizing" is an adjective that has been created out of a verb, which is called a "participle adjective".

What that means, is that something that has the potential to induce hypnosis (literal or figurative) would be considered "hypnotic", whereas something that is "hypnotizing" is currently in the process of hypnotizing (in the verb sense, figuratively or literally) something.

His gaze was hypnotic.

The above phrase indicates a quality in a person's gaze, in that it has the potential to entrance someone.

His gaze was hypnotizing.

This phrase, on the other hand, indicates that the narrator (or the character in context) is actually caught in the trap, entranced by the hypnotic gaze — or rather, that the gaze is in the process of entrancing the narrator.

There is no real reason why one should be considered more metaphorical than the other, although it could be argued that "hypnotizing" is the more common term in the literal sense, simply because it is easier to factually identify an action, rather than a vague property. Whether or not that is the case, I do not know — in truth, I always thought that "hypnotic" was the more common word.

share|improve this answer
1  
You are quite right that hypnotic is the more commonly-used word, according to Google NGrams –  Tom Hughes Jan 15 '13 at 14:25
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.