This curious word, abbreviated from vaporise, has had a short life in science fiction, as a verb meaning “to vaporise by means of a weapon” and more generally “to destroy completely”. Either meaning would apply in the citation of the Oxford Dictionary online: “She’ll vape the Venture, then vape us.” (1999) Since then (around 2007) a look-alike verb, vape, has turned up in the context of “smoking” e-cigarettes. Vaporising is also the key activity there, except it’s a matter of turning liquid into a vapour for inhaling, using an electronic battery charge. It’s a recreational pursuit rather than military action. Vaping is mostly taken up by cigarette smokers to kick the habit (The Guardian, December 2014), and is said to carry only one-20th of the health risk associated with cigarette smoking, because no actual burning is involved. Some argue there are no grounds for banning it in public places, as the UK has. Yet vaping in private is not altogether safe, given reports of explosive effects when recharging the e-cigarette holder on the wrong appliance at home. Safer still to let the battery go flat.
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