As someone who reads a lot, and who has (if I may be so bold) a better-than-average grasp on the laws of grammar, I can't help but twitch when I see people doing it wrong. Forget rules about dangling participles and split infinitives; most people on the internet seem unable to use the right your/you're or its/it's correctly.
There are so many beautiful, beautiful words that we have in our language that help us describe our world (also beautiful). But what we’ve done to the English language is anything but.
Not only have we butchered the spelling and grammar of our own language (while we laughably insist that non-native speakers use it properly), opting to use text speak in everything from daily conversation to essays; we’ve also ruined the actual meaning of words themselves. Here are just a few words that I will forever miss using in the way they were…Twilight
Once upon a time, this was one of my absolute favorite words. Remember what it used to mean? Any word associated with nighttime, from twilight to dusk to eclipse (oops, there’s another ruined word) that used to hold such a magical allure, reminding us of the most mysterious time of day, is now ruined forever as they have become synonymous with that damned book series. I cannot use the term in my writing without a reader immediately brining that connotation to mind, whether it’s accidental or, “Oh, she must be a Twihard!” thoughts. Alas, I miss that word.
I like two definitions of the word gay. I like that it means both joy and homosexual people, as I believe the latter deserves the former—and who wouldn’t want their identification to be associated with a word that means pure happiness? But I do not like that the word has come to mean derogatory terms, such as stupid or lame or whatever people mean when they say, “That’s sooo gay!” It drives me crazy. I always want to say, “It’s a pair of shoes, it can’t be happy.” Well, not anymore, anyway, depending on if they are leather or not. Anyway, it’s impossible for anyone over the age of eight to sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” without knowing that there will be someone some snickering over the gay yuletide.
A word that was once used to describe a frothy coffee or a cool frozen custard treat has been mutilated by goofy slackers and the Cartoon Network. If you hear the word creamy today, do you think of a frozen treat—or do you think of some version of literal toilet humor? Yeah, it just doesn’t have its appeal to me anymore, either. Thanks a lot, Gen XYZ; you can forget the marketing term, Dairy Queen. It’s not a selling point anymore, unless it’s used on Robot Chicken.
- Core Competency
- SWAT Team
- Open the Kimono
- Bleeding Edge
- Lots of Moving Parts
- Corporate Values
- Make Hay
- Best Practice
- Think Outside the Box
- Over the Wall
- Boil the Ocean
- Reach Out
- Giving 110%
- Take It To The Next Level
- It Is What It Is
The word of the day for Saturday, January 21st, 2012 on dictionary.com was remora. This word is pronounced [rem-er-uh]. Though related phonetically, this word has quite a different meaning than, better known word, remorse.
The first definition means that this word refers to a hindrance, obstacle or obstruction. The second definition has quite a different meaning. You have to love the English language.
The second definition refers to scientific context with regards to a type of spiny-finned fish that constitutes the family Echeneididae. They have, (believed by the ancients) on top of their head a type of vessel or sucking disk that allows them to attach to larger fish, rocks, turtles, ships, sharks or any other object of motion in their marine living environment.
Remora was first used in book: The History of the Life and Reign of William the Fourth, by Robert Huish. In context, Huish stated that while extremely unpopular (in the public eye) as a soldier, there was no remora to the Duke of Kent’s employment.
Walter D. Mignolo’s Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking also made mention of remora. In this book he states that all cultures coexist today in diachronic contradictions. What coexists is the colonial remora of Bolivian history, colonized victims and the differing opinions and articulations of colonizing forces.
This word is archaic and was likely formed in 1560-70. It was derived from the Latin word: remorārī, which literally means to linger or to delay. To learn more about this word, go here.
Limerence is regularly tied with the term “crushing on someone”, but this relation is wrong. Regardless of whether those feelings are returned or not, to crush on someone means that you have developed feelings of desire for a person. Limerence is where one desires someone and that desire is fueled by reciprocation from the person they desire.
Whereas a crush on someone or puppy love can last for merely days or weeks. Limerence has been known to last for at least several months or even years.
A crush is usually consciously formed, while limerence is usually an unwanted cerebral state of mind that forms on the subconscious level. Someone demonstrating the effects of limerence would practically walk on water if they came in contact with the person of their desire. While a simple crush would cause more subdued actions. The website, Lovepanky, voices their opinion on the matter, here.
Strangely, during certain periods, one with limerence may not display any emotion or feeling toward the person they crave. These are considered low lying periods. Conversely, low lying periods are replaced with hope for reciprocation; as well as enormous amounts of energy that are devoted to obsession.
Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be much recorded history on the etymology (or origins) of the word limerence. It appears that the word was adapted initially from word, limerent. The second definition of limerent meant 'learned in skulls'. This was only used once in 1819 in a phrenological (this simply refers to the science of measuring a human skull) context.
In 1977, The Observer published the following by Dorothy Tennov: “I first used the term ‘amorance’ then changed it back to ‘limerence’... It has no roots whatsoever. It looks nice. It works well in French. Take it from me, it has no etymology whatsoever.” To learn more about this fascinating word, go here.
I donated my dictionaries because I never questioned that the Internet would always be available to me. Even if my own personal Internet connection was unavailable, I can still access the information I need from my smartphone or from a Wi-Fi spot, so the likelihood of the Internet being completely inaccessible to me is very slim.
These days though, there are talks of terrorist attacks through the Internet, and some people speculate that it would become completely locked down to the public for a time if that happened. While having access to a dictionary would be the least of my worries then, I’ve started thinking about how lost I would feel if I couldn’t look up information whenever I wanted to.
The same goes for books and other printed media. I no longer carry reference books in my personal library because it is simply more efficient to search for whatever I need to know online. If the ‘net went down, however, it would be like flying blind through the world to not be able to learn and read. Perhaps it is time to buy another dictionary. What do you think?