On the Changing of the Dictionaries

 By Tim Challies - Posted at Challies.com:

There is something morbidly fascinating about watching dictionaries slowly but surely change their definitions of common words. It raises some questions, not the least of which strike to the very purpose of a dictionary. Is a dictionary meant to be an objective arbiter of the meaning of words? Or is a dictionary meant to subjectively list the ways in which words are used among the speakers of a particular language at a particular time? These are valid questions, especially in moments when certain key words are being intensely debated.

It is not without significance that Dictionary.com’s word of the year for 2022 was woman. “It’s one of the oldest words in the English language,” they say. “One that’s fundamental not just to our vocabulary but to who we are as humans. And yet it’s a word that continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate. It’s a word that’s inseparable from the story of 2022.” They explain that searches for the word spiked last year, first when Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked to provide her definition of the term—a request she denied—, then again at the overturning of Roe v. Wade and, though they don’t mention it, probably also when Matt Walsh released his film What Is a Woman?.


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