Wordthropology

[I really had a graphic to go right here. Really! But they keep “improving” WordPress so I can’t do the things I used to. I tried, changed its format, tried again, etc. Sorry!]

We accept that humans evolve, it seems like anything humans are involved with evolve as well. Look at tools and for that matter, breathable air. Such is the case with words.

What’s cool is now hot, or is it the other way around?

The most obvious change for a word is the meaning of “gay.” No sense exploring that any further.

“Homely” is an interesting word. It used to mean homie as in comforting and safe. A homely woman would make a good wife; now—I’ll stay out of that discussion.

Once upon a time we referred to fishermen as “anglers.” The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton was an important book that was the first something or other (according to the Dominican Nuns at my grade school). However, no one that I know grabs a rod, reel and a bucket of worms to go angling.

A young man might once have been referred to as “strapping”—that is, as Merriam Webster says, “having a vigorously strong constitution.” You or I might characterize such a person as, “Don’t p!$$ him off!”

The younger readers, if I have any, might now quote Katie Perry with “You’re up when you’re down.” We older folks might prefer the Beatles, “You say yes, I say No.”

In any case, words change their meanings over time. Might be a good thing to remember.

One response to “Wordthropology

  1. You’re ever so right about words and how people infer from them today. Just a few months ago my grandson had a Catholic school project of coming up with a T-Shirt slogan and so he came to me to bat some ideas back and forth. I never attended a Catholic school and I didn’t attend high school
    in the days when political correctness was like a pandemic as today.

    Ultimately, my grandson came up with a word–PUSH–in MASSIVE letters
    across the front of the T-shirt. And in a semi-circle across the top of the word
    PUSH were the smaller words PRAY UNTIL–and also in a semi-circle at the bottom was SOMETHING HAPPENS.

    However, my g-son’s–PUSH, PRAY UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS–slogan was rejected by the principal, Sister Maria Hildegarde. Apparently the principal perceived the PUSH as “drug pusher.”

    And believe it or not, Steve, you and I are on the same wavelength regarding cool and hot. I suggested to my grandson a T-shirt slogan asking:
    What’s hotter than hot these days? Cool!

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