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Why people don't use: "To carry out" instead? And I've never seen such a verb being not used in a context of war.

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  • Phrases like this fall into a category sometimes called verb-noun collocation; in other words, an idiomatic usage of a verb with a restricted set of objects. May 5, 2017 at 18:00
  • because of alliteration May 5, 2017 at 20:58
  • You have to be stark dressed to wage peace.
    – Drew
    May 5, 2017 at 22:32
  • you can wage a campaign to end xyz (but a campaign is a synonym to war)
    – Tom22
    May 5, 2017 at 23:48
  • Doubly interesting because while To carry out never applies to war there is the very different context in which one might carry war to or war might be carried to a territory… May 26, 2017 at 19:31

1 Answer 1

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It usage with reference to war dates back to the 15th century and it has become idiomatic:

  • When you wage something, you carry it out: for example, a warmonger is someone whose primary goal is to wage wars. The word is of Germanic origin, and it's related to both gage and wed, with their underlying meanings of "to pledge."

(Vocabulary.com)

wage (v.):

  • c. 1300, "give (something) as surety, deposit as a pledge," from Old North French wagier "to pledge" (Old French gagier, "to pledge, guarantee, promise; bet, wager, pay," Modern French gager), from wage (see wage (n.)).

  • Meaning "to carry on, engage in" (of war, etc.) is attested from mid-15c., probably from earlier sense of "to offer as a gage of battle, agree to engage in combat" (mid-14c.).

Ngram wage war vs carry out war.

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  • According to the OED both wage and gage are of Anglo-Norman, Old French origin. It is the popular Latin wadium which seems to be of German origin. Etymology: < Anglo-Norman, Old French (north-eastern) wage (Anglo-Latin wagium ) = Central Old French guage , gage (modern French gage ), Provençal gage-s , Italian gaggio < popular Latin *wadium , of Germanic origin: see wed n
    – WS2
    May 5, 2017 at 18:05

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