Bummer of a present, eh? Everybody else received toys for Christmas, but unfortunately she received tuberculosis. “Unfortunately” is right!
Whatever happened to “contracted”? Isn’t that the fancy word for “got” when it comes to diseases?
Maybe, for a person who has risky habits or hangs out in risky habitats, “developed” would work.
“Caught” would work too, of course. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, and so one could logically catch some germs as they flew through the air.
We kids used to “come down with” things. We knew that coming down with the measles was different from coming down from school with a friend, or coming downstairs with a Teddy bear; we understood how to use this clear and functional phrase. And it had a logic to it, too. In our family a genuinely sick child got to spend the days on the livingroom couch, cuddled under a Crazy Quilt lovingly stitched by an ancient family friend named Martha (“which is your favorite patch?” could pass any amount of time), forehead regularly touched by Mommy’s cool hand, lovely little food treats periodically appearing (who else has eaten butter lumps rolled in sugar for a sore throat?). This meant, of course, coming downstairs instead of languishing remote and alone upstairs in one’s bedroom. We were sick; we “came down.”
And, in the vernacular, “got.”
Is this where my student went wrong? Did he check a thesaurus for fancy words meaning “get” and find “receive”? I suppose that’s possible, although I would have expected that he would then test it by ear: “Have I ever heard anybody use ‘receive’ in this way? Have I ever heard of anyone ‘receiving’ an illness? Well, NO! So I guess it won’t work…” But no such internal monologue seems to have occurred, and in it went.
The expression cannot, I tell myself, be part of anyone’s dialect—family or regional. Can you picture the excuse-note sent in by someone’s mother—”Anthony missed school yesterday because he unfortunately received a sore throat”—?
The only thing my student received from me was a comment that “received” was the “WW,” or “wrong word,” in this sentence, with a notation in the margin that it was not an idiomatic usage. If he paid attention to the comment, receiving it will have been fortunate.