(This was also posted at YoungAusSkeptics.com)
One of the great things about the way language evolves is that words change their meaning all the time. The main reason this happens is due to the way in which we generally learn words. How many of you upon hearing a new word actually go to the effort to pick up a dictionary or go to an online one and look up the words meaning? I am sure a few of you do, but the majority of people (myself included) don’t.
Instead we look at the context the word was used in, the sentence it is in and those surrounding, and from there we use our intuition and past experience to decide our own definition of the word. If we get it wrong, we continue to get it wrong until such a time as we are corrected. We may easily decide to start using that word, incorrectly of course, in our conversations with others. They then pick up on this incorrect meaning and maybe even apply their own meaning to it which is different again. As the word spreads and is picked up, the meaning changes. Dictionaries have in the past and continue today to change the official meaning of a word based upon common usage. Continue reading