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It seems that "enamored" can be used with any of the prepositions "of", "with", and "by". What is the proper usage for each?

This is the sentence I'm writing:

The team, enamored with this new metaphor, spent much of the remaining time brainstorming ways to apply those principles to the project.

"By" sounds the most natural to me in that context, and "of" sounds stilted. "With" is somewhere in between.

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Looking at Google Ngrams, British English seems to use nearly exclusively "enamoured of", while American English uses both "enamored of" and "enamored with". "Enamo(u)red by" is quite rare on both sides of the pond. I would probably say "enamored of" when talking about a person, an animal, or an abstract idea, and "enamored with" when talking about a tangible object. I can't tell whether this is just me, or American usage in general. After looking at some examples on Google, I can say lots of people don't follow this rule.

He was enamored with his new model airplane.

He was enamored of the idea of running his own business.

But all three of these prepositions are acceptable grammar, and all three should be understood equally well.

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  • I hadn't heard of Google Ngrams before. Fantastic resource! Thanks for the links. – Steve Nay Nov 20 '11 at 0:37
  • Curious. I'm British, speak English, and I would never say "enamored of"; always "enamored with". – Jez Nov 20 '11 at 10:51
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    Quite the late comment, but I just want to point out that "enamored by" would change the actor, e.g. "I was enamored of/with the audience" describes how you feel about the audience, but "I was enamored by the audience" describes how the audience felt about you. So they're still all acceptable, but not quite equal/interchangeable. – TylerH Nov 23 '15 at 20:21
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Instances of enamoured of overwhelmingly outnumber the other two in the Corpus of Contemporary English, the British National Corpus and the Oxford English Dictionary. All three seem to be more common in British English than in American English.

Hey, I see you're at Brigham Young. You can get corpus data from their site right here.

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  • Yes, but this doesn't explain the difference in the meanings of these three expressions. – Peter Shor Nov 19 '11 at 20:20
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    I don't think there is any difference in meaning. There might be occasions on which the context might possibly dictate the use of one over the other, but I suspect there would be few occasions on which 'enamoured of' would not serve. In the OP's example, I'd have thought 'enamoured' might best be avoided altogether. – Barrie England Nov 19 '11 at 20:29
  • I am at BYU, yes. I'll have a look at that data. – Steve Nay Nov 20 '11 at 0:38
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I found this answer here: http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/enamored.html

"If you’re crazy about ferrets, you’re enamored of them. It is less common but still acceptable to say “enamored with”; but if you say you are enamored by ferrets, you’re saying that ferrets are crazy about you."

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I learned "of", which implies something bestowed upon, a one-way effect. "With" implies interaction, to me. "Of" does objectify the subject more- you are fond of a thing, you are involved with doing things. Etymologically, I suppose it should be with, as en amour / inamour means "in love". But you can have a love of something, also. I would use either depending on whether your love was requited, or caused by involvement and actions, rather than ideals.

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From the Free Online Dictionary... enamoured US, enamored [ɪnˈæməd] adj in love; captivated; charmed

Also... Thesaurus Legend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms enamoured adjective enamoured with = "in love with", "taken with", "charmed by:, :fascinated by:, :entranced by:, :fond of", "enchanted by", "captivated by:, "enthralled by", "smitten with", "besotted with", "bewitched by", crazy about (informal), infatuated with, enraptured by, wild about (informal), swept off your feet by, nuts on or about (slang). "When I was young I was totally enamoured of him."

Therefore, it can be used with any of the prepositions "of", "with", and "by".

Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002

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It may also be a question of style.

This, for example, rolls off the tongue quite nicely.

I was enamored of the town.

This one, however, is clunky in its repetitiveness.

I was enamored of the idea of going to the movies.

In the second example, I would opt for:

I was enamored with/by the idea of going to the movies.

No apparent difference in meaning, but it certainly sounds (and reads) better.

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    Welcome to ELU, Ryan. Can you offer any support for your opinion? We are looking for answers that employ research as well as opinion. – ScotM Jul 7 '15 at 1:13
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I believe that "Enamoured with" indicates a two-way "enamouring" (that is, I am starting to love him AND he is starting to love me). "Enamoured of" indicates one-way (I'm starting to love him). "Enamoured by" specifically indicates one-way only (he is starting to love me).

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    Please consider adding a reference (link) or two, to support your statement. – Drew Jul 5 '15 at 17:48

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