A Longer Response to the Internet About My “Words” Article
An alternate title for this post might be “I Posted Something On the Internet Once That Missed A Couple Details and People Got Mad and I Feel Semi-Bad About It” or, put more simply, “Don’t Hate Me?” Why? Let me explain.
Recently, I wrote an article on HelloGiggles called 10 Words You Have Probably Been Misusing. I wrote it for fun because I like to compare the origins of words with their current meanings and laugh at the inconsistencies. (I’m a riot at parties.) But, I unexpectedly watched my comment count go from 3 to 103 in under a day and realized that the Internet had a negative reaction to what I thought was a cute, fun article about definitions. This was obviously not my intention. When I researched ideas for this piece, I found numerous articles listing “misused” words that I thought were pretty interesting. I mixed these findings with my own additions to create the list I posted on the site.
Here’s what I mainly want to convey with this follow-up blog post: the definitions I was using were based on the original definitions of these words. I clearly understand that words, over time, adopt new meanings as a result of cultural trends. Gay (as in “that’s so gay”), used to mean “happy” but now acts as a very derogatory word intended to bring others down. The definition changed because we made it change. It happens. It happened to many of the words on my list. That’s not what I was writing about. I’m sorry if that’s not how it came off or if that’s how you perceived it. In retrospect, I realize that I was overly confident about the definitions going into the piece, some of which had developed new meanings, and as a result, I sounded very “This is the only definition and you all suck for not knowing it,” which was not the tone I intended to convey. I’m sorry but, at the same time, I cannot take it back. I had fun writing it and even if I didn’t, even if I hated every little piece of it, there’s no taking it back. The Internet has it now.
That being said, I’m always shocked at what people react to on the Internet and the ferocity with which they respond to certain pieces, especially now. I try to prevent this from happening as much as possible but sometimes, it’s hard to predict what people will focus on or what they will take offense to.
This is to set the record straight. These were the definitions I was basing my post off of. (A preposition at the end of a sentence? Blasphemy.) The hyperlinks will lead you to the original entries.
Travesty (n.): a burlesque translation or literary or artistic imitation usually grotesquely incongruous in style, treatment, or subject matter (Merriam-Webster)
Ironic (adj.): poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended (FreeDictionary.com) (The only reason I cite FreeDictionary.com here and not Merriam-Webster is because good ol’ Merriam defines Ironic as “relating to or containing irony” which I didn’t think was particularly helpful.)
Peruse (v.): to examine or consider with attention and in detail (Merriam-Webster)
- * Our overuse of the definition “to skim” for this word has caused it to be included in the dictionary as a new definition. This is the case with many of the words on the list.
Bemuse (v.): to make confused; tolerant amusement (Merriam-Webster)
Compel (v.): to drive or urge forcefully (Merriam-Webster)
- There is an alternate definition, “affected with nausea or disgust,” for the *same reason Peruse has a dual-definiton. We’ve used “I feel nauseous” to mean “I feel nauseated” so much, it has become an accepted definition.
Conversate (v.): N/A
- Even according to Merriam-Webster, conversate is a “nonstandard” deviation of converse.
Redundant (adj.): exceeding what is necessary, superfluous (Merriam-Webster)
Enormity (n.): an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act (Merriam-Webster)
- Alternate definition: immense…see *above for explanation.
Terrific (adj.): exciting or fit to excite fear or awe (Merriam-Webster)
- Alternate definition: unusually fine
GOOD LORD. I apologize for any personal offense I may have accidentally caused. This explanation is over now. I’m tired and annoyed and confused and sad all at the same time, which can’t be good for my health. Thanks for listening, Internet.
Image via LanguageLog