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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Generally, fatigue is used to describe the state of weariness affected by organic and inorganic forms. The term is interchangeably used as a noun or verb, both stemming from the Latin background fatigare, composed of fati, which translates to ‘yawning’.[1] From Latin, the verb branches into three European languages: fatigue in French, fatigar in Spanish, and faticare in Italian all adopt fati as the root word for these adaptations. 
Colloquially, the noun is used to describe “lassitude or weariness resulting from either bodily or mental exertion”.  Additionally, the noun is broadly used technically for engineering purposes, mechanics, and physiological situations. In engineering, “the condition of weakness in metals or other solid substances caused by cyclic variations” is known as metal fatigue. Mechanically, fatigue of elasticity represents a “decrease in the elasticity of a material after a long period or repeated applications of stress, followed by a gradual recovery after that stress is removed”. Medically, the physiologic use defines “a condition of muscles, organs, or cells characterized by a temporary reduction in power or sensitivity following a period of prolonged activity or stimulation”.[2]
The term’s potential application is not only limited to fields of study; fatigue is also used to describe strenuous duties, generally, as well as specifically for extra professional duties allotted to soldiers for misconduct. The first record of fatigue in written works was in 1669 in the works of Sir William Temple; “the glorious Fatigues which have hither to been the Diversion of your Highness” describes fatigue as a task or undertaking, set apart by its responsibilities.
In the 20th century, the term was combined with other words to create specific definitions for military circumstances. Several of these include: fatigue-uniform for attire, fatigue-duty as a synonym for fatigue as assigned to a soldier, fatigue-call as the calling to the previous, and fatigue-party – a collective of soldiers on fatigue-duty. These informal expressions amongst the soldiers were invented during their time spent together as a unit, inevitably resulting in military ‘lingo’.[3]
With broad and varied uses, fatigue, though uncommonly, has also appeared in contemporary situations describing “widespread apathy, boredom, or disenchantment among a specified category of people” or issue as a result of excessive exposure. Due to its anticipated growth in addition to numerous existing variations, fatigue is ironically worn from repeated uses; eventually it may decrease in effectiveness (similar to the technical objects it describes) as the term becomes overused from too many situations.

[1] "fatigue, n.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/68537?rskey=8eUY5R&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed November 20, 2012).
[2] "fatigue, v.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/68538?rskey=8eUY5R&result=2&isAdvanced=false (accessed November 20, 2012).
[3] "fatigue, n.".

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