Some of us are sticklers for the correct usage of words and we tend to get annoyed by words being used in ways we would deem to be imprecise or loose.
People don’t seem to care as much these days about how they use words as they did when I was at school. Wow, how old does that sentence make me feel?
Here are some examples of what I mean.
If something is actionable, it gives grounds for legal action. In the business world, it has come to mean ‘able to be carried out’ or ‘doable’.
To aggravate something is to make it more troublesome or worse, but aggravate is
often used to mean ‘to irritate or annoy’.
To anticipate something is to realize or deal with it in advance, but is often used to
mean ‘to expect’.
An auspicious occasion has good auspices or omens of success; it is not just ‘grand’ or ‘special’.
A consensus is an agreement of opinion, rather than just a trend in opinion. Its
meaning also makes it unnecessary to speak of a ‘consensus of opinion’.
Decimate originally meant ‘to take or destroy the tenth part of’ or ‘to punish by killing every tenth man’. It is now used to mean ‘to reduce very heavily’.
A dichotomy is a division into two strongly contrasted groups, classes, opinions, etc.
It has come to be used to refer to any problem, situation, etc in which there is a
clear split, variance, discrepancy or divergence.
A dilemma is, technically speaking, a situation where both (or all) courses are equally undesirable, but it has come to refer to any predicament or problem.
An entity is something that has a physical existence, as opposed to a quality or mood. It is not just a ‘thing’.
Next week we conclude our look at these word gripes.
* All words in this blog post have been supplied by The 12th edition of The Chambers Dictionary. ISBN 97805501002379