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Definition vs. Common Usage

Does the definition of a word supersede its common usage?

  • Yes

    Votes: 16 37.2%
  • No

    Votes: 27 62.8%

  • Total voters
    43

Manafi's Dream

フェアリータイプタイム
Not that I don't semi agree but citing an exact definition as a case to ALWAYS use exact definitions isn't exactly the best argument.

It's an original one, though, using the definition of definition :D
 
In formal writing, yes. In common parlance, no.
 

randomspot555

Well-Known Member
In formal writing, yes. In common parlance, no.

Pretty much this.

In an informal setting such as this, Occam's Razor should apply: The most common and likely answer (or in this case, definition) is most often the correct one. Choosing a lesser known, less used definition, especially when it comes to common words, is like Zebra hunting.
 

ScytheSwipe

Its whats for dinner
I don't think either side is right. The venacular changes over time and as such dictionary terms are expunged or included to accept or reject words and their meanings... It depends on so many changing factors because language itself evolves over time, locations, ages, race, religion, and popular culture.

So in a sense if you are writing a term paper the dictionary is where you would turn. Writing a novel? It depends.. On the street? Who cares.
 

Vermehlo_Steele

Grand Arbiter II
Languages change all the time, words change meaning to. It's annoying because one word could mean different things in different same-language speaking countries.

Liberal, for example, is an adjective of liberalism; the ideology that individuals have certain rights and that no person has more rights than another. However, in America, the word liberal is misunderstood to mean 'left-wing' or 'progressive'.

Inflammable is another, it originally meant something that couldn't burn, but now it means something that can burn.

The list goes on, unfortunately reversing these changes is impossible, so one should just accept it and move on. However, while words do change their meanings here and now, one should always try to retain the absolute correct meaning of the word.


Try to be correct by the dictionary, unless most people think it means something else. Simple tyranny of the majority.
 

randomspot555

Well-Known Member
Liberal, for example, is an adjective of liberalism; the ideology that individuals have certain rights and that no person has more rights than another. However, in America, the word liberal is misunderstood to mean 'left-wing' or 'progressive'.

Liberal isn't a very common word, as in it's not something most people use every single day of their lives. You're right that it indeed has different meanings, but it depends on the time and place and context. "Apply liberally" on a bottle of sunscreen probably doesn't mean the same thing when Rush Limbaugh says "Liberals are ruining the country",
 
Liberal isn't a very common word, as in it's not something most people use every single day of their lives. You're right that it indeed has different meanings, but it depends on the time and place and context. "Apply liberally" on a bottle of sunscreen probably doesn't mean the same thing when Rush Limbaugh says "Liberals are ruining the country",

Are you sure? I think some people might want to stop global warming by using too much sunscreen! (Joke.)

In any case, language does change, and words do gain new usages. I don't think that it can be stated that these new meanings are absolutely wrong, as much as they make it slightly more difficult for people to communicate while speaking a living language.

I don't think the poll can be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No."
 

Vermehlo_Steele

Grand Arbiter II
Are you sure? I think some people might want to stop global warming by using too much sunscreen! (Joke.)
lol.

In any case, language does change, and words do gain new usages. I don't think that it can be stated that these new meanings are absolutely wrong, as much as they make it slightly more difficult for people to communicate while speaking a living language.

I don't think the poll can be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No."
All this is well said. Also, you're right with the 'yes/no' bit; what is with people and Manichean scenarios?
 

Waterlover711

<=my doggy(prof.pic)
i think this applys very well with the ghetto cause some of their words that they use are very different from the actual definition
 

Ludwig

Well-Known Member
Using a word differently than it's definition defeats the purpose of having a language.

A language needs defined words to be a language (meaning that it's part of the definition of a language, but due to lack of effort, I haven't found a good definition for language, but it seem obvious enough for me to use it without source). This is the main criteria for a language and is (again, without source) the reason why it's used.
Due to lack of sources, this is rather assumptions than a facts, but assuming that above theory is true, not using the definitions in the language would remove that reason for having the language.
 

Double A

Well-Known Member
Ludwig said:
Using a word differently than it's definition defeats the purpose of having a language.

Language always has a purpose if both the conveyer and reciever of information both understand the same thing. It's the reason why language changes but our ability to communicate and understand communication has only improved. Considering that words such as paranoia have a secondary meaning that is widely understood (over-cautiousness), I think it'd be wrong to label said secondary definition "incorrect".
 
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Ludwig

Well-Known Member
Language always has a purpose if both the conveyer and reciever of information both understand the same thing. It's the reason why language changes but our ability to communicate and understand communication has only improved. Considering that words such as paranoia have a secondary meaning that is widely understood (over-cautiousness), I think it'd be wrong to label said secondary definition "incorrect".

1. You didn't write anything about my argument for that statement, so I assume that you decided not to because you wouldn't find a flaw, meaning that I win the debate.

2. The secondary "meaning" wasn't widely understood when it was used as that the first time, so any changes would start as not being understood.

The word is used differently than what its meaning implies, that by itself says that it's defeating the purpose of the word having a meaning. (Wrote that in case my other argument is too difficult for you to comprehend).
 

ChedWick

Well-Known Member
1. You didn't write anything about my argument for that statement, so I assume that you decided not to because you wouldn't find a flaw, meaning that I win the debate.

2. The secondary "meaning" wasn't widely understood when it was used as that the first time, so any changes would start as not being understood.

The word is used differently than what its meaning implies, that by itself says that it's defeating the purpose of the word having a meaning. (Wrote that in case my other argument is too difficult for you to comprehend).

Your whole argument is flawed because language is ever evolving. If it were not we would still be conversing in grunts and clicks. Guess I win huh.
 

Ludwig

Well-Known Member
Your whole argument is flawed because language is ever evolving. If it were not we would still be conversing in grunts and clicks. Guess I win huh.

You're still ignoring:

A language needs defined words to be a language (meaning that it's part of the definition of a language, but due to lack of effort, I haven't found a good definition for language, but it seem obvious enough for me to use it without source). This is the main criteria for a language and is (again, without source) the reason why it's used.
Due to lack of sources, this is rather assumptions than a facts, but assuming that above theory is true, not using the definitions in the language would remove that reason for having the language.
 

Gergovia

Banned
You should all read the book Frindle.
 

Ioneos

old geezer
Although the meaning of words might not change, the context in which they are used does. Take the acronym "lol" for example. The definition is laugh out loud, but honestly, how many of you actually laugh verbally when you use lol? Instead of "Oh, your remark made me laugh" it is now used as "I have nothing else to say in this awkward situation."

A language needs defined words to be a language (meaning that it's part of the definition of a language, but due to lack of effort, I haven't found a good definition for language, but it seem obvious enough for me to use it without source). This is the main criteria for a language and is (again, without source) the reason why it's used.
Due to lack of sources, this is rather assumptions than a facts, but assuming that above theory is true, not using the definitions in the language would remove that reason for having the language.

The words still have meanings, but they just change. Language is similar to a species. It WILL change over time, but not through some instantaneous change because of some super powerful force, but though natural selection, which can be applied in both cases here.
 
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Gelatino95

Not a tool
Languages evolve. Words are used differently and that's fine as long as the speaker can get his or her meaning across, since that's the purpose of language.
 

Ludwig

Well-Known Member
Although the meaning of words might not change, the context in which they are used does. Take the acronym "lol" for example. The definition is laugh out loud, but honestly, how many of you actually laugh verbally when you use lol? Instead of "Oh, your remark made me laugh" it is now used as "I have nothing else to say in this awkward situation."

I don't use "lol".

The words still have meanings, but they just change. Language is similar to a species. It WILL change over time, but not through some instantaneous change because of some super powerful force, but though natural selection, which can be applied in both cases here.

You're not actually commenting my argument. I will assume that it's correct until someone finds a flaw in it.

In addition to that it defeats the purpose of having a language, it is also not understandable. The words got a finite number of defined meaning and an infinite number of non-meanings. Assume that a word is used and that both meanings and non-meaning are accepted, that would imply that there would be an infinite number of ways to interpret each word, interpreting a message with that attitude wouldn't be possible and communication fails.
 

Malanu

Est sularus oth mith
A language needs defined words to be a language (meaning that it's part of the definition of a language, but due to lack of effort, I haven't found a good definition for language, but it seem obvious enough for me to use it without source). This is the main criteria for a language and is (again, without source) the reason why it's used.
Due to lack of sources, this is rather assumptions than a facts, but assuming that above theory is true, not using the definitions in the language would remove that reason for having the language.
Polish (to make smooth and glossy, especially by rubbing or friction: to polish a brass doorknob.) or Polish (Anything from or related to Poland, a country in Europe)

You are also failing to take slang into account Ludwig. Slang is how Language gets used regionally. When something is "Cool" or "Fine" it is pleasant or acceptable, yet those words didn't mean that in the beginning.
 
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