Redefining Words

Over the years, the meanings of words do change and for many different reasons.  I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of these words.  Enjoy!

Some words have changed meanings for technological reasons.
1. A tweet used to be the sound a bird makes.  Now it’s a 140 character message you type on a social networking site where people share things from political news to what they had for dinner.

2. The word friend is now a verb.  Where I used to have a friend over for dinner, I now “friend” someone on Facebook and tell them what I had for dinner.

3. Text used to be a noun meaning the original words and form of a written or printed work.  Now it’s a verb meaning to send a message via cell phone.

Some words have changed as common usage has changed.
1. The word ultimate means the last in a list of items. However, it’s been widely used to indicate the best as in “the ultimate driving machine,” the slogan used by BMW.  This word is so widely misused that if you “google” (a word invented for the Information Age) it, you will find most of the entries refer to the word as meaning the best.

2. The words fewer and less have been used  interchangeably.   Less is supposed to be used when comparing quantities that can’t be counted.  You’d like less trouble.  Fewer is to be used for comparing items you can count.   Nobody wants fewer dollars!  However, we are encouraged to tweet in 140 characters or less.

Some words have been accepted after being incorrectly overused.
1. The word literally has literally lost all meaning.  Defined as something that is actually taking place, literally has been used in place of the word “really” so often, that it has become accepted or literally ignored in the sentence.  I’ve been so frustrated by this misuse that I am literally hopping mad.

2. Totally is another word that has been similarly redefined and overused.  You could totally take out all the totally meaningless words totally from this sentence and totally be left with a totally meaningless sentence.  Totally!

And finally some words have changed meaning totally because of technological opportunities to incorrectly use and overuse accepted slang.
All people have a heart. Some people have heart, but these days, people ♥ all kinds of things.  In fact, if you don’t know how to create a heart symbol with your keyboard, you can simply say “I heart you” and most everyone will understand and think you clever.

What other words have been redefined?  You should totally share the ones you ♥!

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  1. Jessica Halloran says:

    Great post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Cheers!

  2. Art of Eloquence says:

    For more information on this and other posts, you should subscribe to my newsletter. The link is on the post. There are lots of free tips and gifts for our subscribers there that we don’t provide here or anywhere else.

  3. Loreta Seller says:

    Hello love your post

  4. Art of Eloquence says:

    Thank you, Loreta.

  5. Kurt Harewood says:

    Hello. This is so good