Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What's In A Word?

Have you ever gone on for a number of years thinking a word meant one thing, only to discover it means something totally different?

I have.

The word 'erstwhile' is the most memorable.  I had thought it meant 'worthy and useful' and I was brought up short when I referred from the pulpit to our erstwhile minister who was standing right beside me.

I was reminded of another by a comment on an earlier post today.  Until a few years ago , I had thought the word 'apocryphal' meant something which was 'old and full of wisdom.' 

Fortunately, I'm neither a Labour man nor a Democrat so I do know the difference between winning and losing.


Johno said...

The one that I had wrong for years is the use and meaning of "begging the question".

It is so widely misused that the original and correct meaning (a logical fallacy where the conclusion is assumed in a premise) has been almost completely lost.

David said...

Johno, "Beg the question" has been buggered for a long time.

Also of note:

Decimate - once meant to reduce by a tenth, now has come to mean utterly destroy.

Fulsome, as in fulsome praise, once meant flattering to a sickening degree, now seems to mean, according to gravedodger and others, heaping praise on.

Suffer the little children to come unto me once meant permit the children to approach me, now, in Trumpistan it means the little shits can suffer without health care.

A classic in NZ is people who say brought when they mean bought, mny will be seen writing it at wahleoil.

Johno said...

Yeah, nasty origin of decimate from Roman times.

Ironically, "begs the question" has become more useful with it's "new" meaning.