Is there a difference between ‘afflict’ and ‘inflict’? It depends on point of view. Someone inflicts pain upon someone else, while a victim is afflicted by pain. For more information, read the explanation below.
The verb ‘afflict’ means ‘affect in a negative way’. It is most often used passively, as in the sentence:
The workforce was afflicted by an outbreak of flu.
It can sometimes be used as an active verb, as in the following sentence:
Cholera mostly afflicts the elderly and young children.
The noun ‘affliction’, meanwhile, refers to a state of distress, illness, misery or hardship. As it is quite an old-fashioned word, it is now sometimes used ironically to exaggerate suffering:
We missed out on tickets. Please sympathise with us in our affliction.
To ‘inflict’ is to cause suffering or pain, or to impose something unwelcome, like an opinion, upon somebody else. The word ‘inflict’ is thus often used to describe a punishment or physical harm, such as in the sentence:
The attackers inflicted minor injuries upon the victim.
The verb ‘inflict’ always takes an object. The related noun, ‘infliction’, can refer either to the act of inflicting or to the suffering inflicted upon someone.
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