Friday, March 8, 2013

An expert speaks. I could care less.

One thing about words that never changes is that their meanings always change, writes Ben Yagoda, professor of English and Journalism at the University of Delaware.
The process takes time, and to be an early adopter of a new meaning means putting yourself at risk of both incomprehension and abuse. However, at a certain point, clinging to old definitions is a superstitious waste of time and thought. Here's a list of words and expressions whose new meanings, though still scorned by some sticklers, are completely acceptable. (If it puzzles you that there is any objection to some of these, or to find out the original meaning, Google the word or phrase. You will find a lively debate, to say the least.) 
It's okay to use...
  • decimate to mean "kill or eliminate a large proportion of something"
  • like to mean "such as"
  • liable to to mean "likely to"
  • hopefully to mean "I hope that"
  • over to mean "more than"
  • since to mean "because"
  • while to mean "although"
  • momentarily to mean "in a moment"
  • the lion's share to mean "the majority"
  • verbal to mean "oral"
  • I could care less to mean "I couldn't care less"
 And, Yagoda adds, if you have a problem with that, I could care less.

I'll see you outside, Ben.

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