I love words—that’s part of the draw to writing, I suppose. I love to know the intricacies of what a particular word means, because in the full understanding of its meaning, we can often find new insight into old issues.
These two words are a perfect example. Take a look at each definition, and see if you can find the subtle, yet important differences between the two.
vb (mainly tr)
1. to take (something offered) into one’s hand or possession
2. to have (an honour, blessing, etc.) bestowed
3. to accept delivery or transmission of (a letter, telephone call, etc.)
4. to be informed of (news or information)
5. to hear and consent to or acknowledge (an oath, confession, etc.)
6. (of a vessel or container) to take or hold (a substance, commodity, or certain amount)
7. to support or sustain (the weight of something); bear
8. to apprehend or perceive (ideas, etc.)
9. to experience, undergo, or meet with to receive a crack on the skull
10. (also intr) to be at home to (visitors)
11. to greet or welcome (visitors or guests), esp in formal style
12. to admit (a person) to a place, society, condition, etc. he was received into the priesthood
13. to accept or acknowledge (a precept or principle) as true or valid
vb (mainly tr)
1. (also intr) (of a person) to take or clasp (another person) in the arms, or (of two people) to clasp each other, as in affection, greeting, etc.; hug
2. to accept (an opportunity, challenge, etc.) willingly or eagerly
3. to take up (a new idea, faith, etc.); adopt
4. to comprise or include as an integral part geology embraces the science of mineralogy
5. to encircle or enclose
There are two main differences I observe worth pointing out:
- In the second definition of embrace, we see the addition of the two adverbs, willingly and eagerly. Not to get all word-geeky on you (too late, I know), but let’s review just for a moment that the purpose of an adverb is to describe how the action of the verb is carried out. The gift is accepted willingly and/or eagerly. Why is this significant? I believe it is significant because it shows us something about the heart of the recipient. And THAT is exactly what we’re trying to get at.
- In the third definition of embrace, we see a further action takes place. The gift is not only received, it is taken up and adopted. It implies there is a further action to be taken than merely receiving what is offered us. We must do more in order to truly embrace the gift we’ve been given.