Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Idiots Win Again

A lot of people use words incorrectly, which is a problem because communication is so important. However, the bigger problem is that now certain dictionaries are giving in and including those mistakes as proper definitions. One example is the word “celibacy.” The word has nothing to do with sex, or a lack thereof. It simply means being single, not married. The word people are looking for is “chastity,” not “celibacy,” when what they mean is abstinence. And yet now some dictionaries have begun including the definition of “chastity” as a definition of “celibacy.” The idea seems to be that if you make the mistake often enough, it will no longer be considered a mistake.

If I were a student these days, and I used a word incorrectly and the teacher marked my answer wrong, I would argue: “Sure, I’m wrong now, but if enough people make the same mistake, in a few years I will end up being right.” Like the first person who misused “ultimate” as “the best.” Or the first person who said “hopefully” instead of “I hope that.”

People will argue with me that language is constantly changing, and that it needs to. I agree. For example, the addition of the word “blog” makes sense as there was no word for that thing in the past, since then that thing didn't exist. So we needed something. But there is a big difference between new, necessary words being added to dictionaries and common mistakes being added as correct.

Why do the dictionary folks keep caving? Don't let the idiots win. Make them learn the correct definitions. When I use the word “ambivalent” I almost feel a need to define it afterward, because a lot of people these days think it means indifferent. It does not. And “peruse” means basically the opposite of what many people believe it means. Let's start improving education rather than changing dictionaries to suit the needs of morons. Let's raise the bar a bit, folks. Let's expect a little bit more from ourselves and each other.

For the record, here is a photo of a decent dictionary's definition of “celibacy.”

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