Word Confusion: Fascinated By, For, or With

Posted July 31, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I never really thought about how many ways one could be fascinated. Or the differences when combined with these three prepositions: by, for, or with.

In looking for an image for fascinated by, I was thinking of a stalker. Someone who becomes obsessed with someone or something else. Of course, it could also be someone fascinated by a gigantic candy cane or that luscious steak that just went by on a waiter’s arm. I suspect a fascination by is closely associated with a fascination for with the difference being that the former is action-oriented while the latter is subject-oriented. It’s that verb versus noun thing.

Or think of the differences between …by and …for as specific versus general using that candy cane as an example. He’s fascinated by that candy cane versus he’s has a fascination for candy canes. I see fascinated for as more general, and in many cases, more esoteric and involved in ideas, philosophies, creativity.

Fascinated with is all about items. Things you can hold or play with or touch.

Word Confusions started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Fascinated By Fascination For Fascinated With
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Oxford Dictionaries

Image by Sunshine Pub.Co.Phila. (Sunshine Pub.Co.Phila.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’d say he’s fascinated by that candy cane.

Image by Unknown or not provided. Retouched by Mmxx [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

An audience with a fascination for opera.

Image by itchys from Japan (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

He’s fascinated with stamps.

Part of Grammar:
Verb + Preposition Noun Verb + Preposition
To attract or interest a person very strongly

Draw irresistibly the attention and interest of someone

To charm

Something interesting holds a fascination for a person A person has a fascination with something they are very interested in, if the object of the fascination is something that can be held, handled, or manipulated

With implies a deeper interest and be willing to spend time exploring the object of their fascination

I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures.

The professor was fascinated by the country dances.

She was fascinated by this article in Newsweek.

He’s fascinated by you.

I never ceased to be fascinated by their persistence in eating buttered toast with their gloves on. – W. Somerset Maugham Moon and Sixpence

I was fascinated by the thoughts the old man murmured.

Words have always held a fascination for me.

The movies have always held a fascination for me.

Her fascination with shells was obsessive.

He is fascinated with vintage tools.

Tim is fascinated with your question.

He is endlessly fascinated with technological advances.

He was fascinated with botany.

History of the Word:
Late 16th century, in the sense of bewitch, put under a spell from the Latin fascinat- meaning bewitched, from the verb fascinare, from fascinum meaning spell, witchcraft.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Photo of Kathy Davie

Kathy Davie is an editor, author, and artist with degrees in Technical Writing & Editing, Digital Media, and History from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado.

A huge believer in knowledge being power, Kathy has an ongoing and free set of Author Tools for authors interested in self-editing with an ongoing series of posts on Word Confusions, what’s Properly Punctuated, those tricky Formatting Tips, and the sleep-inducing Grammar Explanations. There is also an online tutorial on Using Microsoft Word’s Markup Tool.

And if you get too sleepy, explore KD Did It for various writing and editing services.

Leave a Reply