This context comes from the book "Black Rednecks And White Liberals"

The heavy drain, physical and mental, in keeping squadrons on the East African coast was reflected in the loss of 282 officers and men in the ten years 1875-85; and this did not include these invalidated home

Consider these three definitions:

  1. To make invalid; nullify. (American Heritage® Dictionary)

  2. uczynić inwalidą (ling.pl)

    • this is a definition from a Polish dictionary I'm using which says "make someone an invalid". I wasn't able to find a corresponding definition in English with "invalid" as in "disabled person". although I found this definition in Merriam-Webster which pretty much covers it:
  3. to make invalid
    especially : to weaken or destroy the cogency of.

Does the sentence in question mean that "the loss of 282 officers and men in the ten years 1875-85 did not include these which became cripples during their work and returned home" or "the count did not include the people who died at home as a result of heavy physical and mental drain during the service because someone deemed them invalid to be included in the count"?

  • 1
    What is the rest of the sentence? It seems like there is something missing
    – Kevin
    Feb 8, 2023 at 17:21
  • 2
    The term is: invalidated home, to be sent home from military service due to being an invalid. You're missing a period in your text.
    – Lambie
    Feb 8, 2023 at 17:57
  • This would appear to be a miss-scan/typo of: "invalided home" i.e. returned home due to being invalids / medically unfit for duty. I have never seen the word "invalidated" used in this context.
    – MikeB
    Feb 9, 2023 at 11:23
  • Also it looks like "these" should be "those". I'm assuming the quote was typed by hand, not copy and pasted. Feb 9, 2023 at 21:27

5 Answers 5


“Invalidated” in this context is a rare synonym for “disabled,” used particularly of soldiers. Someone who is disabled by injury is an invalid (in American English, pronounced differently from the adjective that means “not valid,” with the stress on the first syllable and the vowel of the second syllable reduced). This sense of invalidated seems to be primarily from what is now the Commonwealth, in the early 20th century.

Google Ngrams shows that the phrase “invalidated soldiers” peaks at the height of the First World War, the handful of later instances are mostly from history books, and it is not common enough in the American English corpus to be indexed. I also cannot find any usages of civilians being “invalidated” by accident or illness. I have never heard invalidated used that way in modern English, but Google knows of at least one example of it being used in American English, in the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work in 1917.

Some examples (with emphasis added), from Canada:

Many ex-soldiers returned from Europe disabled and unfit to farm. Finding work could be very difficult for disabled veterans, though this issue was not ignored. A 1918 circular by the "Invalidated Soldiers Commission" was published in Ottawa with the aim of providing guidance on how to reintegrate these men into the work force.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, also describing the Armistice in 1918:

On the day of the official celebrations ‘peace bonfires’ were lit at 8 p.m. at different points from Fancy to Union Island. On July 24, ‘invalidated’ soldiers were given five shillings and the ‘destitute poor’ two shillings [....]

And New Zealand in 1940:

A statement concerning the Government’s treatment of soldiers invalidated from overseas was made today by Hon. Mr Jones. Full provision has been made for the treatment and and rehabilitation of men when they return, including medical, boarding and classification treatment where necessary, pay and pension while in hospital, provision of [illegible] clothing allowance, traveling warrants, etc.

  • 1
    Are you sure that this usage of 'invalidated' is not a malapropism made by somebody or somebody (or -bodies), which may or may not have become included in Canadian usage? Your examples seem to be drawn from that quarter.
    – Tuffy
    Feb 7, 2023 at 19:28
  • 2
    @Tuffy These are very unlikely to be errors. My examples are from several different countries and include official, formal language. However, it seems only to have been in vogue briefly, around 1914–1920, i.e. when there were a huge number of wounded veterans from the Great War.
    – Davislor
    Feb 7, 2023 at 19:52
  • Yes, so it may have petered out because, even if it was supposed to be (and was) a malapropism joke, it wasn't a very funny one.
    – Tuffy
    Feb 8, 2023 at 15:21
  • 1
    This may have leaked from French, in which invalide is an adjective describing someone who does not have all its physical faculties, and in particular Grand Invalide Civil and Grand Invalide de Guerre are people carrying a card establishing that their infirmity has been recognized by the state -- notably allowing them to park their car on reserved spots. With WWI being fought primarily in France, it would seem sensible that British/American brought it back home. Feb 9, 2023 at 10:31
  • 2
    @MatthieuM. While etymologically it may have come from French at its root, it entered English usage way before WWI. The use of invalid in English to refer to disabled or weakened persons already exists in the 17th century. oed.com/view/Entry/98893 Invalidate is a straightforward word formation to mean "make invalid".
    – xngtng
    Feb 9, 2023 at 12:20

I've never heard that use, but it may be another way of saying invalided out, which I take to mean, removed from the field of battle due to an injury. It may be only used in BrE and has a WWI feel to it.

A web search gives this from Longman's Dictionary

be invalided out (also be invalided home): British English

to have to leave the army, navy etc because you are ill or injured

  • 1
    Sowell isn't British, but this is clearly the correct sense anyway. With the African Coast context, it's very likely that this is driven by disease (malaria, yellow fever).
    – fectin
    Feb 7, 2023 at 16:53

It means that the number of officers lost which is mentioned in this passage (282) did not include those who were sent home because they were made invalid by military conflicts.

Invalidate seems indeed to be a variant of the verb invalid here. Wikipedia has a note about a British officer, which says:

William Lawford (1809–1812), wounded and invalidated home during the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo.

When you click on his name, you find a post which contains this sentence:

On his first experience of battle, a relatively minor engagement in the Pyrenees, Girdwood suffers a complete mental breakdown and is invalided home.

The AHD which you quote in your OP, has this definition of invalid as a verb:

Chiefly British: To release or exempt from duty because of ill health:

  • I was not quite sick enough to be invalided out, even though I was of no more use (Mary Lee Settle).
  • 7
    I have now corrected that Wikipedia page to use the right verb. OED doesn't mention that invalidate has ever been used to mean "transfer as an invalid". The OP's find is an error.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 6, 2023 at 16:54
  • 4
    And yet, you will find the expression invalidated home with this sense in quite a few books... But I agree that invalided home is the idiomatic way to say it.
    – fev
    Feb 6, 2023 at 16:59
  • 2
    @fev I clicked your link and the very first result doesn't have the meaning you suggest. "For example, courts have invalidated home rule ordinances " The home rule ordinances are being invalidated.
    – Eric Nolan
    Feb 7, 2023 at 10:48
  • 1
    @EricNolan There are many results there. You need to scroll down and you will see what I mean. I am just saying that people do use this phrase in written texts. I personally wouldn't.
    – fev
    Feb 7, 2023 at 10:50

The rest of the paragraph, specifically the next sentence, gives context and makes the meaning fairly clear.

The heavy drain, physical and mental, in keeping squadrons on the East African coast was reflected in the loss of 282 officers and men in the ten years 1875-85; and this did not include these invalidated home. Navy personnel, wracked by fever, sunstroke and dysentery, were forced to retire prematurely and live on a small pittance.

"Invalidated home" means sent home due to illness because they were incapable of duty


The expression is: to be invalidated home

In other words, to be removed from fighting due to being an invalid and being sent back home.

From the Parish Magazine October 1918:

“Frank Robinson joined The Herts Territorials in February of 1914, and was among those camping in Ashridge Park. Just before the war began at the commencement of hostilities his regiment was mobilised and he was in France by November 1914. He was invalidated home,but returned to the front later on, and was attached to the tanks, and killed in action on June 11th 1918 and buried in a cemetery about eight miles behind the line.


About John WatsonGo back to names list Even in the modern day adaption, John Watson (played by Martin Freeman) is still Sherlock’s loyal friend. He is a doctor and ex-soldier, having been invalidated home after being shot in the shoulder in Afghanistan.

Baby names_UK

A Beswick man who had been invalidated home told the story of how he had come face to face with the enemy on the Western Front.

Private Peter Monks described how out of 500 men he had travelled out with, few had not been either killed injured or taken prisoner and how he had been in the trenches for a month.


[As far as I can tell, this is a British expression.]

  • See other answers, the word should be "invalided". "Invalidated" is a malapropism. Feb 13, 2023 at 1:44
  • @ConcreteGannet You may be right or it may be that both are found or that there are varieties of English differences. The OED might point the way on this.
    – Lambie
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:57

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