I’m in the home stretch of Lazhechnikov’s Ледяной дом (The ice house), and I just hit a sentence that took me aback. Poor beleaguered Marioritsa, the princess of mysterious origins beloved of Empress Anna and of the patriotic but besotted (and married) Volynsky, has received yet another blow from fate and had yet another fainting fit: “Когда княжна была приведена в чувство и государыня оставила ее в ее спальне, уверенная, что ей лучше, горничная ее Груня наэлектризовала ее одним прикосновением к руке” [When the princess had been brought round and the empress had left her in her bedroom, confident that she was feeling better, her maid Grunya electrified her with one touch of her hand]. Electrified her! In 1835? I mean, I know Ben Franklin was tying keys to kites in lightning storms in the 1750s, but I hadn’t realized it had settled into metaphorical usage quite that early. Sure enough, the Corpus of the Russian Language shows this as the earliest literary use in Russian, but the OED takes it much further back in English:
a. To charge with electricity; to pass an electric current through; (formerly also) †to subject (a person) to an electric current or an electric shock for therapeutic purposes (obs.).
1745 Philos. Trans. 1744–5 (Royal Soc.) 43 490, I procur’d an iron Bar..; this I electrified lying on Cakes of Wax and Resin. […]
1818 S. Ferrier Marriage x. 104 That old man has the palsy; why don’t you electrify him? […]
3. trans. fig. To excite, arouse, or startle (a person), as if by an electric charge or shock. Also intr.
1748 E. Moore Foundling ii. vi. 25, I can electrify her by a Look.
1794 W. Burke & E. Burke tr. J. P. Brissot To his Constituents 72 Those heights of courage which electrify an army and ensure victory.
1838 J. H. Ingraham Burton I. 184 The touch of his bold lip electrified her. […]