Correcting Your Behavior Since 2017

A Glossary for Amnesiacs

June 10, 2019

As a lover of words, I’ve been greatly troubled by a particular growing trend I’ve noticed in the political world (among many other greatly troubling growing trends I've noticed in the political world). It’s the linguistic sleight of hand by which certain parties have insidiously changed the meanings of words and phrases without telling anyone. “Dictionary be damned,” say they, “It’s a free country, and I shall call things by whatever name I choose.” Well . . . there are many things we have the freedom to do that are not necessarily prudent or beneficial. There’s no law preventing you from swapping organs with a friend. You have a perfect right to invest all your money in Chihuahua sweaters, even if you don’t own a Chihuahua. So this business of misusing words is not a matter of rights at all. It’s a matter of not being stupid.

 

Fortunately, the Curmudgeon is here to clear up any confusion, restoring the forgotten proper definitions for words we all used to easily understand. Herewith (with thanks to Webster’s, Dictionary.com, and several other easily accessed resources), I offer my Glossary for Amnesiacs.

 

Attack

What it means: 1. to set upon or work forcefully against an enemy fortification 2. to assail with unfriendly or bitter words 3. to affect or act on injuriously

What it doesn’t mean: reporting on or exposing elected leaders’ crimes, falsehoods, or misdeeds

 

Best (eg. “the best people”)

What it means: superlative of good, excelling all others, most productive, producing the greatest advantage, utility, or satisfaction, most, largest

What it doesn’t mean: unqualified, immoral, unsuccessful, second rate, harmful, or nefarious

 

Coup

What it means: a sudden, violent, and illegal overthrow of a government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction; an overthrow, takeover, ousting, deposition, insurrection, or mutiny 

What it doesn’t mean: a legal, government-conducted investigation into suspected crimes by political figures

 

Fact

What it means: a thing that is known or proved to be true, an actual occurrence

What it doesn’t mean: a falsehood one is trying to pass off as truth

 

Fake

What it means: anything made to appear otherwise than it actually is; counterfeit; not real, but made to look or seem real 

What it doesn’t mean: true but unpleasant, reflecting badly on an individual or group; referring to information one desires to suppress

 

Fake News
What it means: false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke

What it doesn’t mean: responsible, accurate reporting that reflects badly on an individual or group

 

Genius (eg. “stable genius”)

What it means: a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect, one who possesses brilliance, a prodigy

What it doesn’t mean: one who believes the moon is part of Mars, windmills cause cancer, raking prevents fires, and the Chinese invented the myth of global warming

 

Harassment

What it means: aggressive pressure or intimidation

What it doesn’t mean: holding leaders accountable

 

Hater

What it means: a slang term for someone who is negative or who discourages others, one who expresses unfounded or inappropriate hatred or dislike, particularly if motivated by envy

What it doesn’t mean: one who objects to unethical or illegal behavior

 

Invasion

What it means: 1. an act or instance of entering as an enemy, especially by an army; 2. the entrance or advent of anything troublesome or harmful, as disease; 3. entrance as to take possession or overrun; infringement by intrusion

What it doesn’t mean: attempts to immigrate, legally or illegally, or to seek asylum

 

Joke

What it means: something said or done to provoke laughter or cause amusement, as a witticism, a short and amusing anecdote, or a prankish act

What it doesn’t mean: a humorless insult or attempt to disgrace, offend, or slander where humor is not involved

 

Nasty (eg. “nasty woman”)

What it means: disgusting, filthy, physically repugnant, indecent, obscene, mean, tawdry 

What it doesn’t mean: simultaneously female and powerful, female and well-informed, or female and in possession of damning information about a man

 

Patriotism

What it means: the quality of being patriotic; devotion to and vigorous support for one's country

What it doesn’t mean: unquestioning loyalty to a particular leader, party, or cause, regardless of morality or ethics

 

Political Correctness

What it means: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated, avoiding language or behavior that any particular group of people might feel is unkind or offensive

What it doesn’t mean: elitism, censorship, denial of freedom of speech, phoniness

 

Stable (eg. “stable genius”)

What it means: 1. firmly established, fixed, steadfast, unvarying 2. steady in purpose, not subject to insecurity or emotional illness, sane, rational

What it doesn’t mean: fickle, erratic, inconstant, of questionable mental soundness

 

Treason

What it means: (according to the U.S. Constitution) “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”

 

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

What it doesn’t mean: disloyalty to a person, cause, organization, or political party

 

Unfair

What it means: 1. not based on or behaving according to the principles of equality and justice; 2. unkind, inconsiderate, or unreasonable; 3. not following the rules of a game or sport

What it doesn’t mean: investigative
 

Winning

What it means: 1. gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition; victorious, successful, triumphant, vanquishing, conquering; 2. attractive, endearing, engaging, charming, appealing, endearing, sweet, cute, winsome

What it doesn’t mean: experiencing a decline in quality of life, economic hardship, tarnished reputation, and/or increased threats to one’s safety and/or wellbeing

 

Witch Hunt

What it means: 1. a searching out for persecution of persons accused of witchcraft; 2. a campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views, the searching out and deliberate harassment of political opponents

What it doesn’t mean: investigating justified suspicions of wrongdoing, exposing proven misdeeds, attempting to hold elected leaders accountable for violations of the law

While I’m quite certain that not everyone is suffering from this particular form of amnesia, I’m even more certain that at least one person is, and would greatly benefit from this brief refresher. That person probably doesn’t read The Weekly Curmudgeon. Indeed, that person may not possess the necessary skills to read The Weekly Curmudgeon. But in the interest of restoring accurate definitions for the words on this list, perhaps someone can read it to him.

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